In some family-oriented shows and movies, instead of using completely made-up swear words, real but relatively mild cuss words, such as "hell" Note and "damn", will get promoted to the top of the swearing ladder. To make up for the situation, they may use a Bowdlerisation of it.
Contrary to popular belief, the words "damn" and "hell" are permissible in a G-rated film. For example, the 1971 movie Airport had both ("Where the hell are you?" and "You've always got some damn excuse!") and it still received a G rating, though movie-rating standards have changed since then. Planet of the Apes (1968) received a G rating, despite famous lines like "You damn, dirty apes" and "Goddamn you all to hell!" Even some G-rated animated features, such as Sleeping Beauty, The Secret of NIMH, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, have included mild swear words. However, it is worth noting that "Hell" can refer to the place and "damn" can mean condemnation to said place, and thus are not swear words even if such concepts are a little heavy for children. "Bitch" (the official term for a female dog - from which the derogatory use is derived) and "ass" (an alternate name for a donkey) almost never get such passes, unless it is explicit and obvious that the non-swear meaning is intended.
While "damn" is normally permissible, "goddamn" is considered blasphemous amongst many Christian sects and so might be seen as on par with "fuck", if not worse, resulting in literal examples of *Bleep*-dammit!. (This is particularly true in the US.) The M*A*S*H movie when shown on TV has had Sergeant Gorman's Catchphrase, "Goddamn Army" bowdlerised to "Damn Army".
Some words are considered acceptable in some cultures but not in others, and this may appear in G- or PG-rated contexts in one place, but generate complaint in others. For example, in the UK the word "bloody" is considered to be quite a strong swear word when used as an epithet; elsewhere it's not an issue. Also in the UK, the word "ass" is rarely used; instead, the word "arse" is used, and it's considered a mild swear. In North America, "arse" is sometimes considered a non-offensive variant of "ass" in the same context as using "heck" instead of "hell," though it depends upon the person.
The use of "Hades" as an old-fashioned synonym for "Hell" is theologically correct, in the right context, but is commonly misused in any context in which "hell" would work. Using Hades as Satan is never correct though. See The Underworld article for other terms that may be substituted in this manner in works based on other theological settings.
The kid-friendly variant of Bowdlerise. A favorite tool of the Badbutt, a G-rated badass. Another character type known for this is the Minnesota Nice. If the setting forces everyone to swear like this, you are looking at a Magical Profanity Filter.
Compare Country Matters, which is where a medium takes great lengths to avoid not general cuss words, but one word in particular which is seen as immensely offensive and explicit.
Contrast Cluster F-Bomb which is the exact opposite. See also Big, Stupid Doodoo-Head, Curse of The Ancients, Mondegreen Gag, Never Say "Die", T-Word Euphemism, Unusual Euphemism, Witch with a Capital "B", and the Wikipedia article on minced oaths.
This trope is about moments where swearing is deliberately censored or a replacement to a real-life swear word is used. The example subpages and folders below are not to list moments where you personally think that swearing would have looked cool, or for moments where you believe swearing would have improved a line.
- Comic Books
- Fan Works
- Films — Animation
- Films — Live-Action
- Live-Action TV
- Video Games
- Web Original
- Western Animation
- Other Media
- Real Life