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Narrative Profanity Filter

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Ralphie Parker: Oh... f-u-u-u-d-g-e...
Adult Ralphie: [voiceover] Only I didn't say fudge. I said the word. The big one. The queen mother of dirty words. The "F-dash-dash-dash" word.

So, you're writing a book, and one of your characters, for whatever reason, has to swear. Not a problem — unless your intended audience are children or people who are generally against swearing. Is the risk of offending them worth the artistic reward of using exactly the right word? What can you do?

Easy: Just say that the character swore, without going into exactly what they said.

There are several ways to go about this. One way is to use direct dialogue, with a note that the offensive word the character "really" used has been replaced with something tamer; e.g.:

"Do you want me to send the whole blasted army after you?" he snarled. Only "blasted" was not the word he used.

This has the advantage of capturing more of the character's content and phrasing, but only a Lemony Narrator or a fairly intrusive first-person storyteller can get away with it.

Another way is to use indirect dialogue, more or less avoiding actual details; e.g.:

Carruthers cursed under his breath.

It can also overlap easily with Expospeak Gag, like so:

Jannaway speculated, loudly and at length, on Strafford's parentage, sexual predilections, and eternal destiny.

This trope shows up in Real Life, as well, as the source of common phrases like "Bob told Alice where to go",note  and "Alice told Bob where he could stick it."

Note that both versions involve the character actually swearing, and the narrator substituting less offensive language. That is what separates this trope from Unusual Euphemism, Curse of The Ancients, and Gosh Dang It to Heck!, in which the characters themselves use less offensive words rather than swearing. A combination of the two is occasionally used in which a character paraphrases an insult in-universe, as in:

"She told you to go away. Except... she didn't put it so politely."

Compare Mouthing the Profanity. See also Foreign Cuss Word and Pardon My Klingon, in which actual swearing is portrayed, but is incomprehensible and therefore inoffensive to the reader. Compare Symbol Swearing. Tactful Translation is when a translator invokes this to avoid offending someone. Also note that this is chiefly a Literature trope. Sound-Effect Bleep and Curse Cut Short are rough audiovisual media equivalents, whereas T-Word Euphemism is often used for print. Contrast Spice Up the Subtitles or Unusual Dysphemism, which are cases where swear words are used as substitution for something comparatively tame. Not to be confused with Bowdlerization, which is when the original work isn't censored like this, but the edited work is.


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    Anime and Manga 
  • Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet: When Ledo wakes up on the eponymous fleet, his mecha needs to analyze the language of the natives. To do so, Ledo grabs the nearest girl, runs away with her on his shoulder, and, just to make her talk some more, touches her ass. What follows is this, using a Expospeak Gag-based Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness translation by Chamber, of "reproduction with one's mother, as well as sanctified excrement".

  • A Büttenredner in Cologne carnival was asked to describe the reaction of his parents after an unfortunate event. He asked, "With or without the curses?" After the other person said he should tell it without them, the reply it short, "In that case, they said nothing!"
  • In the "Private Life" track of his Stand-up Comic album, Woody Allen says, "Some guy hit my fender and I said unto him... I said, 'Be fruitful and multiply,' but not in those words."
  • In Bill Cosby: Himself, Bill Cosby relates the tale of his eldest daughter's birth. He describes his wife's response to a contraction as, "She informed everyone in the room that my parents were never married."
  • In one of his standup routines involving his (disastrous) experience with skiing, Larry Miller describes "meeting his first woman" while on the slopes:
    Our conversation was brief, but memorable. My contribution consisted of this— (silent, gape-mouthed look of panic) —while hers consisted of a short, pungent phrase indicating that she had confused me with Oedipus.
  • On his album Werewolves and Lollipops, Patton Oswalt, known for having a particularly blue act, talks about how Comedy Central never tells him, "Don't do that bit at all!" but instead asks him if there's a G-rated word he could come up with for something, then proceeds to demonstrate how G-rated filth is way more disturbing than regular filth: "I'm gonna fill your hoo-ha with goof juice!"
  • One standup routine by Dennis Wolfberg describes the argument that ensues with the other driver with whom he was involved in a car crash in terms like, "He called me not so much a person as an orifice", "I implied that he was the offspring of a female dog", and "He advised that I engage in an activity which, had I complied, would have resulted in my becoming pregnant."

    Comic Books 
  • Batman: In All-Star Batman & Robin, the Boy Wonder, after the Goddamn Batman throws "Jocko-Boy" Vanzetti into Gotham Harbor and lies that the hallucinogenic substance in his blood will never fade away, a text box reads, "Standards of decency prevent us from printing Jocko-Boy's response." Later dialogue involves heavy use of 'fuck' and 'cunt', which raises the question of exactly what Jocko-Boy said that was so much worse.
  • Brink: All the cursing is replaced with censor bars. Since 2000 AD is pretty liberal about cursing, this prompted at least one person to complain about hypocritical censorship... which earned the response that this was a deliberate decision by Dan Abnett.
  • Excalibur: Leaning on the Fourth Wall example in an early issue, when Arcade captures Courtney Ross:
    Arcade: Be a shame to miss a minute a' the last day o'your life, trey, trey gauche, don'tcha think?
    Courtney Ross: What I think, Arcade... isn't printable.
  • The Flash: In The Flash (Rebirth) #64, Flash reminds Batman that he said ''No duh, Sherlock" to him. To which Batman replies "Those weren't my exact words". The kicker is that Flash asks him where he picked that up and Batman says he got it from his son, Damian. Meaning Batman is saying "No shit, Sherlock" because his kid says it.
  • Hawkeye: In Hawkeye (2012), it's quite obvious that "futz" is only around to keep the comic at PG-13 levels.
  • Marvel Boy: Noh-Varr carves "FUCK YOU" into New York using his space guns as a means of sending a message to Earth and his previous captors. The words themselves are never shown in full, however — instead, you see SHIELD agents looking at the damage and noticing that it spells something, with the word "YOU" being shown along with the comment, "There's more, sir..."
  • The Transformers: More than Meets the Eye: Used for comedy in issue #18, where Rodimus recounts his encounter with Chief Justice Tyrest to some of the other Autobots after the latter asked if Rodimus had any questions regarding his "crimes against the universe."
    Rodimus: Just one: WHY ARE YOU SUCH A— (the comic panel suddenly cuts to Rodimus sitting and talking calmly in a prison cell) And that's when I started swearing.
  • Young Justice: An early issue features Superboy being reminded to stop a plane crashing into a crowd. Superboy's response is "Oh, * !", with a text box reading "* Insert current popular but unprintable teen profanity here."

    Comic Strips 
  • Calvin and Hobbes:
    • Used in one strip when a board game between the title characters turns into an Escalating War.
      Calvin's Mom: Isn't it cute how Calvin plays both sides of Monopoly with his stuffed tiger?
      Calvin's Dad: I dunno... I overheard him using words he didn't learn in this household.
    • A different strip has Calvin writing words in the snow with boot prints. Cut to his dad at the window, reading: "'My... dad... is... a... big...' HEY!"
    • Yet another strip involves the tail end of a Horrible Camping Trip, when the non-stop downpour finally ends just as Calvin's family is about to pack up and go home.
      Calvin: Did you know what any of Dad's words meant?
      Hobbes: No, but I wrote them down so we can look 'em up when we get home.
    • The opening of a 1987 Sunday strip has Dad reading a home improvement guide before fixing the sink.
      "Before beginning any home plumbing repair, make sure you possess the proper tools for the job.
      "Check the following list of handy expletives, and see that you know how to use them."
  • A Doonesbury comic from June 1985 features Frank Sinatra standing off-panel shouting things like, "Get me your (obscene gerund) boss, you little (anatomically explicit epithet)!"
  • In a 1999 Garfield strip, Jon is looking for a date for New Year's Eve.
    Jon: (hanging up with a shocked look) I just learned three new words.
    Garfield: Unsuitable for a comic strip, no doubt.
  • Nick Knatterton: "The ladies accuse each other of having un-ladylike jobs" (during a Cat Fight).

    Fan Works 


  • Galaxy Rangers fanfic will usually use the good, old-fashioned English (or German) swearing...unless Niko's delivering a Precision F-Strike. It'll usually be something "no one could translate."
  • Author KCS tends to reference swear words obliquely:
    • 221B: "Bowl" features Holmes and Watson implicitly swearing at each other after Watson finds out Holmes stored a (possibly poisonous) red leech in their sugar bowl for lack of a better place to put it. However, Watson only says that his response was rude and Holmes' was "even less sophisticated", and he cites this as one of the reasons he never intends the general public to hear this story.
    • Simple Gifts: At one point, the sick Watson swears at Holmes when the detective becomes too blunt, but Holmes doesn't list the actual words, only that they were apparently Scottish.
    • Mistake Sherlock Holmes: At one point, a doctor tries to evict Holmes from the room for exciting Watson too much. Holmes informs him what he can do with his medical advice, making Watson laugh.
  • Nimbus Llewelyn tends to use this as part of a Sophisticated as Hell writing style, particularly in Child of the Storm and its sequels, often alluding to extensive foul language rather than using it, with the exception of the occasional Precision F-Strike.

Specific Fan Works

  • In And All the Stars Burned Bright, when Admiral Taylor informs Barbara Havers that Starfleet will not be launching a rescue for the missing black ops team that includes her captain-slash-lover:
    Narrator: ...Barbara rather graphically suggested several places Starfleet Command could shove their lack of a rescue mission, most of which were not only anatomically impossible but also absolutely disgusting.... [and] followed this up by giving the admiral a lurid and inventive account of said admiral's probable ancestors, not a one of which seemed to belong to any sentient or even remotely attractive species in the known reaches of the galaxy.
  • Bait and Switch (STO) changes between the various swear word tropes almost at random. Sometimes, as with the first time Eleya meets Admiral Marconi, it's "[character] swears" (this trope). Sometimes they swear in alien languages. In a couple cases, the author just uses a Precision F-Strike (although the second time, when Gaarra and Eleya talk about their one-night stand, it was technically Pardon My Klingon crossed with Translation Convention).
  • Bequeathed from Pale Estates has Oberyn Martell losing his temper while conversing with his brother, so he "births a dramatic and rude gesture" in his sibling's direction. Doran is unimpressed.
    Doran: If you want to point, use a polite finger.
  • Butcher Of The Wards: Taylor's ability to mute the Butcher voices apparently extends to bleeping out their profanity, although that doesn't stop her from internally swearing herself.
    Butcher: Oh come on. She gets to &?!#ing swear but we don't! How is that any -ing fair?
  • A variant from Calvin & Hobbes: The Series:
    I will not go into details about how he was performing the operation. This story is only PG.
  • Mitsumi in Close (But No Coffee) gets angry at Ghetsis' abuse of his son N and "[says] a few words she had never uttered in front of the impressionable Hareta" before punching Ghetsis.
  • As is the case with a lot of her works, the author of the Deliver Us from Evil Series uses Said Bookisms such as swore and cursed... and yet still uses some profanity. The level of profanity has actually gone up over time in the first book, Mortality, possibly matching the increasingly Darker and Edgier story. Plus, it is a WIP, so the author might edit out some of the profanity in the future.
  • A Diplomatic Visit: Chapter 2 of the sequel Diplomat at Large mixes this with Pardon My Klingon when Scolopidia "let out a word that didn't translate into Equestrian", a rather obvious swear that makes her guards give her a disapproving look.
  • Don't Say Goodbye, Farewell:
  • Eye of the Storm (Kenya Starflight): Essentially all cursing is subjected to this.
    • In the very first story, it happens when Austin has just hit his head:
      There was a bang and a loud expletive as Austin extracted himself from the oven. Upon seeing Trapper he said "If I catch you using that word I'll wash your mouth out with soap."
    • In Crystal Blizzard, during the Christmas Eve dinner preparations, Austin is subjected to one again when he accidentally drops a serving container:
      There was a loud crash and a cross expletive from the kitchen, followed by Mrs. Pratt's shocked gasp and Liberty's stern "Shut your filthy mouth, Austin!"
  • Gaz's Horrible Halloween of Doom: When she gets caught in a thunderstorm after already having had a terrible night, Gaz stands there for a few seconds in Stunned Silence before "screaming out a long string of obscenities someone her age really had no business knowing."
  • In the Animorphs fanfic Ghost in the Shell, when CNN shows footage of Essa-in-Tom giving Jake a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown, Tom remembers Jake saying "several words that our dad probably wasn't aware Jake even knew, and definitely would have grounded him for using."
  • The Headhunt: Lore's head has just enough time to say "something uncomplimentary" before Eleya turns him off.
  • In It's Always The Quiet Ones, Snape shoots a bunch of spells unsuccessfully at an Eldritch Abomination that has him ensnared in its fishy tentacles, and then unleashes the Killing Curse, which is described as "two words that resulted in a virulent green streak of magic leaving his wand and passing through the alien creature".
  • I Want To See You Smile: When Vanilla's captive would-be robbers hear that she's already repaired the alarm system and called the police, they "quite vocally, and colorfully, expressed their opinions on me, my powers, my mother, and my sexual preferences and habits." She just gags them and moves on.
  • In the Junior Officers chapter "Margaret's Story", the narration cuts off Margaret's father calling her "the S-word".note 
  • Kingdom Hearts Ψ: The Seeker of Darkness, as a Running Gag, has a partially self-imposed one where people avoid swearing around Sora, including Kairi who's a regular Sir Swears-a-Lot when she appears in a story without him. The author describes it as a "Definitely Innocent, So No Expletives, Y'all" field. (Though as it happens, Sora himself is not above swearing when he stubs his toe and thinks no one else is around.) And while Vanitas seems to be immune to it, he's later caught up in another such filter when he visits the Hundred Acre Wood, called the Majorly Interfering Location Negating Expletives, which does affect him.
    Vanitas: This must be what it's like for everyone else around Sora.
    • A later story reveals that Vanitas was not immune to the presumably related field in Disney Town itself, and it took him a lot of effort to break through.
  • In Last Rights, Eleya drops "a particularly vile Kendran oath" when Senior Chief Athezra takes a chunk of shrapnel square in the chest.
  • When Lord Doom steals Armsmaster's tinkertech motorcycle, promptly crashes it, and then flies away into the sky while laughing, "Armsmaster said some things that were probably not PR approved." Unfortunately for Armsmaster, he was caught on camera, and became a PHO meme.
    Kriketz: ​"Lord Doom is scum." Well, Let's ask a resident hero what his opinion on the matter is?​
    Attachment: AngryArmsmaster.jpg​
    Oh boy, that's some strong language. Nevermind.​
  • Ma'at: The protagonist is being prisoner, and is a Cunning Linguist, and from her captors' perspective, is "cursing in at least two languages the leader didn't know."
  • A Moon and World Apart: In Chapter 11, when Spike's dragged Sunset out of bed and says he warned her, Twilight thinks to herself that "Sunset's response was low enough that Twilight couldn't quite hear it, and very likely unprintable".
  • In The Simpsons fanfiction Must Love Ned Flanders, Naomi "mutters something profane".
  • In Origins, a Mass Effect/Star Wars/Borderlands/Halo Massive Multiplayer Crossover, Jack gets one—it's a Cluster F-Bomb inside this trope as the description around it makes clear. The words are displayed in a minor aversion, but exactly how many times is left up to the reader's imagination (hence this trope):
    A cluster of panted words, mostly involving "fuck," "shit," and similar poured into the ears of everyone on her channel.
  • The Pieces Lie Where They Fell: In the sequel Picking up the Pieces, the griffon Doctor Gregory finds out about Wind Breaker's forced alcoholism from his childhood and, in response, is said to have "uttered something so harsh that every set of ears in the room flattened at it" to refer to the ones responsible.
  • Pokémon Reset Bloodlines has a few examples:
    • During a Bug-Catching Contest, Ash and Pikachu encounter a Shuckle who says something insulting to Pikachu, and the mouse answers back with an insult of his own. Ash only mentions the insult is something he would never say out loud in the same continent as his mother.
    • Later when they're reunited with Primeape, he's revealed to be quite foul-mouthed, to the point he's constantly blurting out profanities during the battle against Blaine in Cinnabar. However, both Ash and the narration refuse to go into specifics.
    • In the Melemele Grand Trial Interlude, Velvet Lono, of all people, says an expletive when she sees Hala's Bewear using Pain Split to alleviate Hariyama's use of Belly Drum. The word isn't explained, but given the other characters' reactions, it must have been strong.
  • In The Power of Light, a retelling of Final Fantasy, this occurs in Elfland as Luke rages about the prices of weapons.
    "Four thousand gold for a silver sword. Four freakin' thousand freakin' GOLD for a freakin' silver freakin' sword." Freakin' was not exactly the word he used.
  • In The Prayer Warriors, a variant is used, when Michael, infiltrating Hogwarts to learn about whether it's connected with the British government and planning an attack on Christians, attends a magic lesson. The author says that he will not mention the name of the spell Michael learned because "I don't want to teach you atheistic satanic scum how to do magic".
  • The Penguins of Madagascar fanfic Princess (Laburnum Steelfang) features Julien telling Skipper to "do something which, considering certain biological facts, was actually impossible".
  • Crossed with an inversion of Pardon My Klingon in Red Fire, Red Planet (from the perspective of a Vulcan petty officer):
    Kybok heard Blackhawk say a word he had been told humans considered very rude.
  • In Reluctant Hero, Aang freaks out after throwing a pirate off a cliff and asks him to wave his arms to show he's alive. The pirate does something else entirely.
    Aang: Well, that wasn't a very nice hand gesture.
  • In the Mobile Fighter G Gundam Dead Fic The Revenge of Rutger Verhoven, which is told from the title character's point of view, he talks about his sole crew member Billy Jack's tendency to use obscenities. Billy Jack's censored assessment of the Nether Gundam is this: "The bleeping piece of bleep looks like the bleeping bleeps took a bleeping outhouse, put a bleeping fan on the front and put a bleeping robot inside." Rutger adds, "For the record, he didn't say bleep."
  • Rocketship Voyager is ostensibly a 1950's Pulp Magazine story, so has to use this trope, e.g. "Cut us down, you b***ds!" or Janeway uttered a Martian word they had not taught her at the Scholarium or:
    B'Elanna sat up shouting, "Lieutenant Carey is an OWWW!" as she banged her head on the capsule's ceiling, trailing off in a string of curses. Chakotay informed her that Carey had never been groundside on Venus, so was unlikely to have had intimate relations with a mudsucker eel.
  • Comes up a few times in the Danny Phantom/Beetlejuice crossover, Say It Thrice. Mostly from Betelgeuse.
    Danny was then treated to a very colorful and descriptive tirade that would've been censored heavily even to qualify for an R rated film. The Ghost With The Most seemed determined to use every curse in existence in the most creative manner possible. Danny thought he might have stopped speaking modern English at one point and either switched languages or started using something older. Or both. It was actually pretty educational.
  • The Secret Return of Alex Mack: This happens a lot, in keeping with Alex's PG-rated Nickelodeon origins.
    Jo had some different words. Most of them involved words Alex was not allowed to say, put together in some ways Alex had hardly ever heard before.
  • In The Seven Misfortunes of Lady Fortune, Chat Noir is eavesdropping on two villains arguing, and notes that he can't understand half the Chinese curses despite knowing the language.
  • The Hunger Games fanfic Some Semblance of Meaning uses this, usually the "[character name] cursed" variation.
  • The second installment of The Stalking Zuko Series, Not Stalking Zuko is rated T, so the author uses various ways to keep the rating down, including this trope; Katara points out that whenever she mentions that someone said "puck", she actually meant that they said "fuck". This trope is dropped in the third installment, Not Stalking Firelord Zuko, which is rated M.
  • Sword Art Online Abridged has this in its games.
    • In Sword Art Online, the player dialogue was bleeped out whenever someone swore. This lasted until the end of the first episode, where Kayaba disabled the profanity filter; the very first words said afterwards were "We're FUCKED!!"
    • In Alfheim Online, the titular game was originally developed to be targeted towards a younger audience, and as such has an in-universe profanity filter whenever someone tries to swear, causing them to instead say a more innocuous word in its place, like "ash" instead of "ass" or "codfish" instead of "God". This in something Kirito deeply misses once he finds out about Alfheim's limitations. That said, the players have found ways around the filter to roleplay things like sexual predation and institutionalized slavery, and Asuna's violent threat to Sugou in Episode 15 is no less terrifying.
  • This Bites!:
    • In Chapter 14, after learning that Kureha gagged him with a vial of sugar rather than salt, Soundbite's reaction is not written coherently. The reactions to it are, however:
      Cross: (rubbing a finger in his ear and whistling in awe) Wow…
      Nami: I… lost track of what he was saying halfway through, though I think he managed to insult your family back to its… tenth generation?
      Vivi: I know twelve different languages, but… I didn't recognize a third of what he said.
      Kureha: KAK KAK KAK! Either way, he's got quite the mouth on him!
    • In Chapter 34, Nami unleashes a Cluster F-Bomb while the SBS is running. For the sake of his auditors, Soundbite manages to censor her... more or less.
  • In Chapter 21 of Total Drama Comeback, the contestants have to compete in a prom-themed challenge in which they'll be paired up, and Gwen's boyfriend Trent ends up with her worst enemy, Heather. When Heather makes a few too many moves on her challenge partner, Gwen has to be physically held back from murdering her, while unleashing a torrent of profanity in her direction that isn't described in detail.
    Noah: My, she's better than the worst flamers I've ever seen on MMORPGs.
    Izzy: (clapping) That was great! You curse like my cousin!
  • Through a Diamond Sky: "[Tron]...grumbled a few hexadecimal strings unfit for polite company".
  • The True Love Loophole: After finding out that Raven is Covered with Scars from abuse, it's said that all Apple of all people could do was mutter every curse she knows.
  • Universe Falls: In "The Stanchurian Candidate", after Stan's disastrous phone interview at the start of his campaign for mayor, Steven describes an angry email Stan got as having "just about every word Pearl's told me I should never say."
  • Unleashing of a Dark Night: Done in spectacular fashion after Atari makes a failed attempt to fight the Metal Were as the latter walks off, not interested in the slightest, after effortlessly taking down Tomo for the first time.
    But the Metal Were left anyway, leaving her to shout one anger-fueled obscenity that Sonic had to cover Tails's ears in order to prevent him from hearing.
  • In Waiting for one's arrival, Tetsu Tohsaka wasn't happy to learn Luna Lovegood was bullied by her housemates, leading to an altercation.
    Dumbledore: What kind of an 'altercation', Filius?
    Flitwitck: Some very loud and very vicious words, some rather pointed insinuations about their ancestry and the sexual orientation of their family pets, and a truly remarkable amount of colourful ways of describing both them and their current situation. (beat) I believe Miss Lovegood took notes.
  • In What Tomorrow Brings, the Dapsen Lumber guard screams obscenities that Elfangor is fairly certain park rangers aren't supposed to know.
  • The writers of With Pearl and Ruby Glowing lack N-Word Privileges, so racial slurs such as the N-word are censored.
  • Although With Strings Attached hardly shies away from good old Anglo-Saxon swear words, on occasion this trope is employed for variety, mostly in this context: "What's going on?" said John. Paul filled him in. John swore.
  • The Palaververse: Mr Stripes Versus A Cthonic Horror: In the first chapter, Mr Stripes encounters a Diamond Dog that speaks Equish with Speech Impediment of a lot of "th", probably due to his "badly-crooked muzzle", and therefore "shit" is "thit":
    “Up, dogth!” he barked with a long and badly-crooked muzzle, beckoning up with a paw, his waistcoat studded with little jewels and tools. “Itth Bridleway. Up and out and away, before ponieth get thuthpithiouth and everything goeth to thit.”
    * Gaz's Horrible Halloween of Doom: When she gets caught in a thunderstorm after already having had a terrible night, Gaz stands there for a few seconds in Stunned Silence before "screaming out a long string of obscenities someone her age really had no business knowing."

    Films — Animated 
  • Fantastic Mr. Fox replaces all profanity with the word "cuss". This is best exemplified by Fox declaring a "clustercuss of a situation". There's also a scene where some graffiti that simply reads "cuss" can be seen in the background.
  • Mad, Mad, Mad Monsters, the kind-of prequel to Mad Monster Party?, has Modzoola get scolded by his wife for being unfaithful to her by pursuing the Monstress. Nothing she says is intelligible, but Baron Frankenstein's reaction implies she is swearing.
    Baron Frankenstein: My word! I've never heard a woman use such language!
  • Self-inflicted in-universe in Toy Story when Woody tells Buzz why he cannot say what he truly thinks about him:
    Woody: The word I'm searching for, I can't say, because there's preschool toys present.
  • In the Novelization of Turning Red, this overlaps with Foreign Cuss Word when Abby is described as swearing in Korean.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • An in-universe example comes from Apollo 13, where, after receiving a reminder from Mission Control to avoid locking the gyroscope's gimbals, Jim tells Fred that he's "...well aware of the Goddamn gimbals!", which Fred relays to Houston with a simple "Roger that, Houston." Subverted because the lunar module's comm system was set to Voice Activated mode, so Houston heard the original version too.
  • Bull Durham: An In-Universe example when Teddy the radio announcer describes what Crash just called the umpire to get thrown out of the game—which we were watching in person moments earlier.
    Teddy: (over the radio) I've never seen Crash so angry and frankly, Bull fans, he used a certain word that's a "no-no" with umpires.
    Milly: Crash musta called the guy a cocksucker.
    Annie: God, he's so romantic...
  • A Christmas Story does this in two ways. Ralphie's "Old Man" is noted to be a champion of vulgarity, but all of his tirades are rendered into meaningless angrish. In another scene, Ralphie accidentally lets slip, "Oh... fudge!" The narrator clarifies that he didn't actually say "fudge", he said the real "eff-dash-dash-dash word".
  • From Fargo, an upstanding citizen describing a conversation with a less savory fellow:
    "So he says, 'So I get it, so you think I'm some kinda jerk for askin',' only he doesn't use the word 'jerk'... And then he calls me a jerk, and says the last guy who thought he was a jerk was dead now. So I don't say nothin' and he says, 'What do ya think about that?' So I says, 'Well, that don't sound like too good a deal for him, then.'"
  • In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Rocket translate's Groot's "I am Groot" as "Welcome to the frickin' Guardians of the Galaxy!" but adds, "...Only he didn't use 'frickin'.'" He then admonishes Groot for language.
  • In The Martian, Mark's communications through the Rover link are usually shown with the profanities dashed out. On one occasion, when Mark is told that his crewmates hadn't been informed about his survival and responds with a Cluster F-Bomb, the audience gets to see and hear little more than the horrified reactions of Mission Control, aware that his words are being transmitted all over the world.
  • An in-universe example occurs in Poltergeist when Steven remarks to Diane that boss didn't take him seriously when he told him where to go, so he gave his boss directions.
  • The in-universe version is used in Speed, when the main character is examining the bomb underneath the bus and one of the civilians on the bus is repeating what he says over a radio: the hero swears in shock at something he sees, and the meek-looking office worker instead translates it as "Oh darn."
  • When The Star was made in 1952, cursing wasn't allowed in movies. So, for the scene where the streetwalker sharing a cell with movie star Margaret Elliot realizes that the drunk, disheveled person in front of her is who she says she is, the streetwalker says, "I'm a dirty name! It is Margaret Elliot!".
  • A close variant in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home when Dr. McCoy expresses his opinion of The Plan:
    "You're proposing we go backwards in time, find humpback whales, then bring them forward in time, drop them off and hope to hell they tell this probe what to go do with itself?!"
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory gives us this gem:
    Computer Operator (Tim Brooke-Taylor): I am now telling this computer exactly what it can do with a lifetime supply of chocolate!

  • A Brazilian comedy book had a chapter being interrupted to inform that "we upset some Moral Guardians, so we're replacing cuss words with the word 'Palmito.'" The word is used until near the chapter's end, when the author's informed the palm cultivators got upset.
  • Poul Anderson:
    • "Peek! I See You":
      'Oh!' said Paziliwheep, rather more pungently. 'Please ask his unblessed bureaucratship why he intends to excrete away so lovemaking much time on this ball of dirt', likewise rather more pungently.
    • "A Bicycle Built for Brew: "McConnell is a four-lettering lovechild!"
  • Artemis Fowl: The Eternity Code: At one point during the infiltration of the Spiro Needle, Holly grunts "something unprintable" in response to Artemis impatiently urging her on.
  • Isaac Asimov:
    • "C-Chute": Col Windham tries to inspire common ground with Stuart by citing national identity and Fantastic Racism. Stuart, however, disagrees with an "unprintable" response.
    • Fantastic Voyage: This Novelization has The Hero speculate that CMDF, the insigne of the paramilitary organization, might stand for "Consolidated Martian Dimwits and Fools", and adds, "I've got a better one than that but it's unprintable".
    • Foundation Series "The Mule": Ebling Mis frequently says "unprintable". This might be the narrator replacing his statements with another term, but some of his dialogue only makes sense if he's actually using "unprintable” as a curse word. He is described as being foulmouthed, using "Ga-LAX-y" as another explicative.
    • "Little Lost Robot": The physicist who told the titular robot to "go lose yourself" told Dr Calvin exactly what it was he said, "in one long succession of syllables." Dr Calvin, for her part also identifies the words obliquely, saying that she knew some of them as derogatory, and assumed the others were equally so.
  • Common in Dave Barry's columns, which had to use language suitable for family newspapers. Several of them quote remarks as having sounded like "duck shoe" or "ash sole." One titled "&*@##%$(!?,.<>+*&'%$!!@@$##%%^&" has this choice paragraph:
    I felt pretty bad, saying the S-word right into my son's ear, but he was cool. "Daddy, you shouldn't say the S-word," he said. Only he didn't say "the S-word," you understand; he actually said the S-word. But he said it in a very mature way, indicating that he got no thrill from it, and that he was merely trying to correct my behavior.
  • Oddly, Jeremy Clarkson of all people occasionally indulges in this. One car review involved a reference to "an expression that rhymes with bucket."
  • Dashiell Hammett:
    • The Continental Op short story "The Girl with the Silver Eyes" uses this trope (as do some of his other stories).
      She put her mouth close to my ear so that her breath was warm again on my cheek, as it had been in the car, and whispered the vilest epithet of which the English language is capable.
    • The Maltese Falcon:
      The boy spoke two words, the first a short guttural verb, the second "you."
  • Robert A. Heinlein loves this trope, since he was both writing in the days when such curses were still considered somewhat unprintable, and often for the juvenile market. So his characters sometimes will say things like "Expletive Deleted!" or the first-person narrator will merely describe the profanity in vague and general terms such as "I told him what I thought of him, using words I hardly ever use." One memorable subversion of this trope appeared in Starship Troopers. Their first day in boot camp, Sergeant Zim chews out the assembled cadets at great length.
    Juan Rico: He never once repeated himself and he never used either profanity or obscenity. (I learned later that he saved those for very special occasions, which this wasn't.) But he described our shortcomings, physical, mental, moral, and genetic, in great and insulting detail.
  • Hive Mind (2016): Amber often comments that Adika swears, or that there's a level of his mind that is nothing but swears. The specific swears are never stated.
  • Holmes on the Range: The series isn't shy about swear words but uses the word "fudge" instead of fuck (it's even a running gag with Gus Bock) while noting that "fudge" isn't the actual word being used.
  • Diana Wynne Jones:
    • From The Homeward Bounders:
      "Unprintable things!" I said—only I didn't say that. I really said them.
    • In Wilkins Tooth, Buster and his gang used purple, orange, blank language—and they wouldn't be half as menacing if they actually used 'orange', 'purple' or 'blanking'.
  • Keeper of the Lost Cities:
    • In Neverseen, "[Keefe] shouted a bunch of words that would earn him a month of detention".
    • In Nightfall, after Keefe makes a risky move despite Sophie's protest:
      Sophie shook her head, her brain too clogged with words she wasn't supposed to say to come up with a response.
    • In Flashback:
      • When Ro has to call Keefe "Lord Hunkyhair" after losing a bet:
        Ro said it, all right. Along with several ogre words that weren't very nice.
      • When Ro finds out who Sophie's ogre bodyguard will be:
        The last name made Ro unleash an impressive string of ogre curses.
        Ro muttered a few more creative words under her breath.
      • Tarina unleashes "a colorful array of Trollish words" the first time she teleports via free-falling.
    • In Legacy:
      • After Sophie reveals some bad news, Ro is mentioned to be "muttering a whole lot of creative words under her breath."
      • When Stina has to wade into mud:
        Stina muttered a string of words that would've made Ro proud.
  • Mercedes Lackey usually uses the "he/she swore" method. There is a more elaborate example late in The Silver Gryphon, when:
    In a calm, clear voice, [Blade] suggested that the wyrsa in question could do several highly improbable, athletically difficult, and possibly biologically impractical things involving its own mother, a few household implements, and a dead fish.
  • C. S. Lewis uses the word "bucking" in That Hideous Strength, where a more literal reportage of the events might be a word which begins with "F".
  • Outdoor humorist Patrick McManus describes an instance when he and his fishing companion Retch Sweeney decide to go skinny-dipping in a mountain stream that proves to be ice-cold. They emerge from the water just as a small group of mushroom enthusiasts come walking past, and McManus expresses his relief that "a particularly bad twelve-letter word had frozen on Retch's lower lip and didn't thaw out until we were in the car driving home."
    • Pat's Neighbor Al Finley has a habit of calling people by "crude anatomical terms", like "elbow". It is left ambiguous whether this is a case of Narrative Profanity Filter or Unusual Euphemism—but that ambiguity is itself part of McManus' style of humor.
  • Tamora Pierce does this a fair amount—it shows up in the Tortall Universe and Circleverse series. Comes in both "Alanna swore colorfully..." and "The cook speculated on Briar's parentage..." flavors. (As of Beka Cooper, she's abandoned it. Mastiff has liberal use of the word shit, as well as "swive", an antiquated synonym of "fuck".)
  • H. Beam Piper, in the short story "When in the Course", had a character "curse Styphon's house for ten minutes without repeating a single malediction". In other books, he included phrases "I'll fix the expurgated unprintability!" and "He used a word you won't find in the dictionary but which nobody needs to look up."
    • Another example, from Piper's story "A Slave Is a Slave": "Shatrak's face turned pink; the pink darkened to red. He used a word; it was a completely unprintable word. So, except for a few scattered pronouns, conjunctions and prepositions, were the next fifty words he used."
    • His novel Four Day Planet includes the following lines, as recounted by the novel's first-person narrator, a young journalist note :
      • "That's a double two-em-dashed lie, you etaoin shrdlu so-and-so!" somebody yelled. "Who are you calling a so-and-so, you thus-and-so-ing such-and-such?" somebody else yelled back, and a couple more chairs got smashed and a swirl of fighting started.
    • Police Operation has the 'he cursed' variation, as a very nasty animal attacks.
    • Time Crime has this: "Tortha Karfnote  began, alphabetically, to blaspheme every god he had ever heard of." This is a universe with a lot of alternate timelines.
  • Harry Turtledove isn't shy about writing out profanity, but this pops up from time to time. There's even some subtle Leaning on the Fourth Wall when it happens, as the offending language is described as "unprintable".
    • One of the more memorable occasions is in his TL-191 series, when Jefferson Pinkard gets orders from Ferdinand Koenig:
      What Pinkard said when he saw that had an f and a k in it, too, with a couple of other letters in between. He said several other things right afterwards, most of them even hotter than what he'd started with.
    • In his Crosstime series (meant for younger audiences) set in an alternate universe where the US never formed and racism is still rampant, Turtledove makes use of this when an officer talks about putting down a bunch of rebelling "people".
  • P. G. Wodehouse often used this.
    "Be careful what you're doing, you silly ass," he said, in part.
  • A rather interesting version of this appears in All Quiet on the Western Front, where one of the main characters is, on a few occasions, described to be "using the most famous quote from Götz von Berlichingen". For those of you not acquainted with the more obscure works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, the quote referenced is "But he, tell him, can lick me on in my ass". In German, that has the same connotations as "Go fuck yourself". More usually one says "lick me on my ass".
  • Shows up all the time in the Animorphs books.
    • From #1note :
      I guess Rachel thought the same thing. She slowed down just a little and began yelling and waving her arms. "Come on, come on, you—" And then she said some words I didn't realize Rachel even knew.
    • When Marco tells Jake that a kid in their school has sold the morphing box, Jake sits bolt upright in the middle of class and says "something you're not supposed to say in school."
    • In the third Megamorphs book:
      • The team goes back in time and end up at Princeton during segregation. One of the boys calls Cassie something very offensive. It's not stated, but since she then turns into a polar bear and asks "am I white enough now?"...
      • Ax says "a word he must have picked up from humans".
    • In #23, Tobias says some words he can't repeat. Jara Hamee asks him what they mean.
    • In #27, after Rachel rejects a guy hitting on her, "He called me a name I've been called before."
    • In #28, Ax gets one when describing Marco's driving:
      I saw a pickup truck, with its horn blaring and its driver forming a sort of salute with one raised finger.
      It occurred to me that oncoming vehicles should not be passing by on the right.
      <Hey, that guy gave me the finger!>
      <Some people take it personally when you nearly run them down,> Tobias said. <Some people have no sense of humour.>
    • In #30, overlapping with Mouthing the Profanity. Marco tries mouthing something to Rachel; she misunderstands and mouths something profane back.
      I saw Rachel giving me the fish eye from across the room. I mouthed that one word: alive.
      Evidently Rachel doesn't read lips. She misunderstood what I'd said and responded by mouthing two words I won't repeat.
    • In #53, this trope overlaps with Pardon My Klingon:
      Erek said a long string of words I didn't understand.
      "I was offering you my opinion of your morals and your ethics and your sense of decency," Erek spat. "I was speaking an ancient Mesopotamian dialect known for its wide variety of curse words."
  • Atlas Shrugged:
    "You can tell that railroad to—" followed by untransmissible words, was the message of the Smather Brothers of Arizona in answer to the S.O.S. of New York.
  • In the The Baby-Sitters Club Super Special "Snowbound", Dawn's mother hits a mailbox while trying to drive in the snow. She says, in Dawn's words, "a word I have never heard her use before. In fact, I've heard it only in movies that Mom doesn't know I've seen."
    • In "Sea City, Here We Come!" Stacey is about to recount what Mrs. Barrett said while driving, before trailing off and recovering with, "Actually, I won't repeat what she said."
  • The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Done a few times in The Amulet of Samarkand usually for a Babylonian swear word. But one instance takes the cake when both language and violence make a censor when an imp is about to say something very inappropriate we get a line of asterisk and the footnote.
    These polite asterisks replace a short censored episode characterized by bad language and some sadly necessary violence. When we pick up the story again, everything is as before except I am perspiring slightly and the contrite imp is the model of cooperation.
  • David Eddings takes this trope and runs with it in The Belgariad and The Malloreon. The only actual curses in the entire series are the God's names like with Durnik's "Belar, Mara and Nedra" (which is described as swearing particularly well), but there are plenty of descriptions of cursing, including shocked reactions from the characters present. The absolute epitome of this is in the exchanges between Beldin and Polgara, which are so epically vulgar that they can drive hardened warriors from the vicinity. It is said that Polgara can curse for hours nonstop, in multiple languages (usually at the same time), without ever repeating herself.
  • The Big Sleep has this as Running Gag. After a young suspect gets caught, his only words from then on are shown as "Go —— yourself." Marlowe will occasionally narrate that the kid said "his three favorite words" and refers to him as "he of the limited vocabulary." When Marlowe asks a cop if the kid said anything while he was away, the cop quips, "He made a suggestion. I'm letting it ride."
  • Mary Rodgers's A Billion for Boris (sequel to Freaky Friday) has a "Brooklyn-born Chinese Puerto Rican" character resorting to this:
    "#%* °@+ !" he said darkly in inscrutable Mandarin.
  • In the BIONICLE book Challenge of the Hordika, Sidorak curses in an ancient language that was "old when Metru Nui was new". In Legacy of Evil, Reidak lets out "string of curses that could have seared the scales off a stone serpent", after one of his teammates flipped him over like a coin, into the sea. in Time Trap, Vakama mutters something that "would have gotten him tossed out of a Ga-Metru school". And wise old Turaga Nuju is known to have at times used his special bird language for such purposes, which his aide was always hesitant to translate, although the others around him could still guess what he was saying.
  • Herman Wouk, in the preface to The Caine Mutiny, assumes that readers will not want a more exact rendering of the sailors' habitual speech, and only notes that they use "horrible profanity". At one point, a CPO gives "vent to a string of profanities which meant roughly 'This is most unusual.'"
  • Dream Park: When S.J. teases Mary-Em about her character's magic-induced pregnancy in The California Voodoo Game, her reply does have something to do with motherhood, but could hardly have been considered complimentary to S.J. (or to S.J.'s mother, one presumes).
  • In "Mirror, ɿoɿɿiM, Off the Wall", one of Spider Robinson's Callahan's stories, Fast Eddie is at a loss for words trying to describe the taste of "Wonderbooze":
    "Dat incestuous child is de best oral-genital-contacting booze I ever drank," Eddie said approximately.
  • In the Chaos Walking series, Todd does this a lot. Most notably, whenever he wants to narrate that someone said "fuck", he replaces it with "eff - except they didn't say 'eff'".
  • Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator briefly mentions that the Invisible President at one point utters a very rude word. Unfortunately, he's live on national radio, meaning that kids everywhere hear it, repeat it, and get smacked by their parents.
  • In Cheaper by the Dozen (or at least the book version), one of the kids calls a neighbor's kid a "son of an unprintable word". Most readers know what this means. Later there's "you unprintable son of a ruptured deleted."
  • A quote from A Christmas Carol reads thus:
    Scrooge said that he would see him—yes, indeed he did. He went the whole length of the expression, and said that he would see him in that extremity first.
  • Conan the Barbarian, when he wasn't swearing by Crom or his other gods, would often let loose with curses in his native tongue, such as in one scene in "The Scarlet Citadel" where, as his final words to Evil Sorcerer Tsotha before being shut up in the dungeons, he "let loose a searing Cimmerian curse that would have burst the eardrums of an ordinary man."
  • In Over Sea, Under Stone, the first book of The Dark is Rising, the three Drew children encounter Bill Hoover down at the harbor, with Jane almost getting run over by him on his bicycle. After exchanging some heated words, he rides away:
    "—off, the lot of 'ee," he snapped; they had never heard the word he used, but the tone was unmistakable, and Simon went hot with resentment and clenched his fists to lunge forward.
  • In Danny, the Champion of the World: When Mr Hazell sees the doped pheasants all over the filling-station, the language he uses is so foul and filthy that it scorches Danny's earholes, and he cannot possibly repeat it.
  • Deltora Quest features the line 'Barda cursed under his breath', usually in response to the book's villain, a lot.
  • Used throughout The Devil In Vienna which is written as protagonist Inge's diary. She says Seyss-Inquart's name sounds like "a certain dirty word", but fails to specify, mentions her mother saying "a word she hardly ever uses" and uses the old standby, "only he didn't say...".
  • Discworld:
    • In Reaper Man, Mustrum Ridcully uses a word "unfamiliar to those wizards who had not had his robust country upbringing and knew nothing of the finer points of animal husbandry" to cuss out the Dean for careless use of a fireball spell.
    • Toyed with in The Truth; the brutal Mr. Tulip has a speaking habit punctuated with "—ing" (sic), used in ways that heavily suggest swearing. It's gradually revealed that the characters in the novel are actually hearing him saying "(pause)ing" or actually pronouncing the dash. When you reread it, knowing that he's not actually swearing this time, this bit of dialogue is much more funny.
      Mr Tulip: It's a —ing virginal! So called because it was meant for —ing young ladies!
      Priest: Gracious, really? I thought it was just a sort of early piano!
      Mr Pin: Meant to be played by young ladies.
    • From Guards! Guards!: "They felt, in fact, thoroughly bucked up, which was likely how Lady Sybil would have put it and definitely several letters of the alphabet shy of how they normally felt."
    • Additionally, two from Men at Arms. First, "...a remark from a Watchman would be genteelly paraphrased by a string of symbols generally found on the top row of a typewriter's keyboard..." Second:
      "D*mn!" said Carrot, a difficult linguistic feat.
    • Mort had this exchange between two thieves who tried to mug Mort, only to see him escape by walking through a wall:
      "— me, a —ing wizard! I hate —ing wizards!"
      "You shouldn't — them, then," said the second thief, effortlessly pronouncing a string of dashes.
  • Vlad Taltos from Dragaera, Unreliable Narrator extraordinaire and Trope Namer for First-Person Smartass, occasionally falls into this. Given his vocabulary the rest of the time, it tends to be for Expospeak Gag-style humor, such as when he says in Iorich (after Norathar tries to get rid of him with some Blatant Lies) that he gave her "a brief dissertation on fertilizer." That's Vlad-speak for, "Bullshit."
  • In Dragon Pearl, Min notes that space-farers say a lot of words her mother wouldn't want to hear.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • Bob the Skull's introduction in Storm Front has a bit where Bob grumbles something in Old French, "though I got lost when he got to the anatomical improbabilities of bullfrogs."
    • Normally the series isn't afraid to use harsher curse words when appropriate. But they do this in one book where after hearing bad news the narration says "Hendricks said a bad word." "Sideways", Harry responds.
  • Invoked in Dan Abnett's scifi novel Embedded, one of the technologies in which was "ling patches", which were used to modify speech (including communicating across languages). On a recently settled and emancipated planet, the government tried to keep news feeds clean by using modified ling patches that would replace certain swears with with sponsored expletives. One of note, was the word "Freek®", and it was Discussed early on.
    Falk: What's with this "freeking" thing?
    Cleesh: NoCal Cola stepped up and offered to sponsor an expletive inside the zone. Freek®. Like in NoCal Freek®, the lime-flavoured hi-caff one. [...] [Done by] Ling patch.
    Falk: That's how you're making that little sound at the end of the word? [laughing] None of you can actually curse any more?
    Cleesh: Nope.
    Falk: Say fuck!
    Cleesh: Freek®!
  • Everworld: Of particular note is the incident in the fifth book when the resident Emotionless Girl goes Unstoppable Rage.
    She erupted in a stream of obscenity, spitting the words at me, eyes bulging, face red, raging, hurling the filthiest insults imaginable. I turned and walked away.
  • In Roald Dahl's Fantastic Mr. Fox, after the titular character has again outwitted the farmers after his hide, Farmer Bunce is described as exclaiming in language that "could not be typed."
  • Rafał Kosik did this a few times in his Felix Net And Nika Young Adults books. Very few characters use profanities, but when they are, those are Cluster F Bombs. Only all profanities are replaced with "beeeep".
  • In The Final Reflection, after a Human diplomat makes a proposal that Krenn finds horribly insulting, he relieves his feelings by using an alien language the Humans don't know "to curse the Humans and their riding animals".note 
  • Though the first Flora Segunda book didn't use this trope much, if at all, the second features it practically every other page. Although since Califan swearing seems to consist of things like "fike" and "scit", and Flora's willing to record those as-is, one wonders what exactly is being censored.
  • Joe Haldeman's The Forever War has this with the protagonist's far-future squad members. "He said a word whose vowel had changed over the years, but whose meaning hadn't."
  • In For Whom the Bell Tolls, which is full of Spanish-speaking characters, Ernest Hemingway rendered some words as "obscenity" or "unprintable" in dialogue, rather than either translating them or leaving them in Spanish. Hence the famous line: "I obscenity in the milk." Except for the expurgated word, this is a literal translation of the expression "me cago en la leche," which is not censored when the novel includes it in Spanish.
  • In Michael Grant's Gone series, this happens quite a lot. (He's gotten praise for it, too.) Once, Drake Merwin (resident Ax-Crazy psycho) calls Diana (Smug Snake, Snark Knight, etc) a witch. Only the book says that wasn't the word he used. Also, in the fourth book Plague, when Sam and Astrid the Genius are having some relationship problems it says that Astrid told him he could go make out with someone else, only she used a phrase Sam was really surprised to hear coming from good Christian girl Astrid's lips.
    • This isn't entirely surprising, given that he cowrote Animorphs with K.A. Applegate.
    • Subverted in that curses actually are spelled out in the series, just rarely, such as when Diana refers to herself as a bitch. Possibly the most direct subversion was in Fear, the fifth book, when Penny said a phrase to Caine that wasn't very nice, and "ended in "you". This is immediately followed up by Caine's correcting her; she should have said, "Fuck you, your highness". Dashed out, but still.
  • In Great Expectations, there is a scene in which a character's repeated uses of the word "damn" are printed as "bless". It's unclear whether this is censored or whether it's what he's actually saying.
  • Harry Potter:
    • This appears about 50 times a book, usually with Ron doing it (indeed, "Ron swore", often "loudly", might be the catchphrase of the whole series), usually followed by Hermione or his mother berating him for it. It's quite effective—readers get the sense that Harry and company are normal teenagers who curse and make rude hand gestures, without it interfering with the story. There's more directly-reported swearing in the later books, reflecting both the Darker and Edgier subject matter and the increased age of the characters and readers. Sometimes Rowling makes it easy and just cuts off the dialogue (As in, "You—").
    • Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire includes the line "Ron told Malfoy to do something that Harry knew he would never have dared say in front of Mrs. Weasley", giving us Narrative Profanity Filter and a Noodle Incident in one.
    • Ironically, one of the few times an actual swear is uttered, it's by... Molly Weasley. Mind you, she had every reason to let loose, and of course O.O.C. Is Serious Business.
    • In the scene where Harry, Hermione, and Ron are attacked in a Muggle cafe in Deathly Hallows, Hermione "muttered a suggestion as to where Ron could stick his wand instead."
    • Fred and George's sparklers "write swear words in midair of their own accord" when they are released inside Hogwarts in Order of the Phoenix.
    • "Snape let out a stream of mixed swear words and hexes" during his Worst Memory in book 5.
    • Harry bangs his head and pauses to "employ a few of Uncle Vernon's choicest swear words."
    • Half-Blood Prince:
      Frustration was running high and there was a certain amount of ill-feeling towards Wilkie Twycross and his three Ds, which had inspired a number of nicknames for him, the politest of which were Dog-breath and Dung-head.
    • J. K. Rowling does it for obscene gestures as well as words, such as during the Quidditch World Cup final:
      The leprechauns had risen into the air again and, this time, they formed a giant hand, which was making a very rude sign indeed across the pitch towards the Veela.
      • There was possibly a method to this, as depending on what country you're from, the hand sign that comes to mind could be completely different. Though, the leprechauns were, of course, representing an Irish team, so there's also that to be taken into consideration.
    • There is another instance where Harry initially thinks someone is making a rude gesture towards someone else, but that person was actually just showing off a ring that was on presumably his middle finger.
    • Ron makes a rude hand gesture in front of his mother, who threatens to jinx his fingers together.
    • Uncle Vernon, Mundungus, and Ron all use "effing" at least once. Not a swear word, but we know what they mean.
    • "...[during Christmas], the suits of armor had all been bewitched to sing carols whenever anyone passed them. It was quite something to hear "O Come, All Ye Faithful" sung by an empty helmet that only knew half the words. Several times, Filch the caretaker had to extract Peeves from inside the armor, where he had taken to hiding, filling in the gaps in the songs with lyrics of his own invention, all of which were very rude."
    • In his commentary of The Tales of Beedle the Bard, Dumbledore mentions that Lucius Malfoy had a few choice things to say to him, "but as they consisted mainly of opprobrious remarks on my sanity, parentage, and hygiene, their relevance to this commentary is remote."
    • The third book has this instance with Ron:
      "D'you know what that -" (he called Snape something that made Hermione say "Ron!") "- is making me do?"
  • A variant is used in Hidden Talents. The narrator mistakes the sound of swearing for chickens clucking at first, then realizes that a single swearword is being said over and over, implying a Cluster F-Bomb.
  • In Kurt Vonnegut's Hocus Pocus:
    Bergeron's epitaph for the planet, I remember, which he said should be carved in big letters in a wall of the Grand Canyon for the flying-saucer people to find, was this:
    Only he didn't say "doggone".
  • In one of Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson's Hoka stories, one character describes another as the offspring of a union that the compilers of Leviticus would not have approved of.
  • From the first novel of the Honor Harrington series, On Basilisk Station, when Countess New Kiev tries to tell Dame Estelle Matsuko to stop enforcing local trade laws:
    Dame Estelle's sulfurous description of her interview with Countess New Kiev's courier had been [interesting]. Honor had never imagined the genteel, composed Resident Commissioner could be so elementally enraged. Dame Estelle had looked ready to bite pieces out of the furniture.
  • In force through all of the Horatio Hornblower books, which are about sailors. They're usually denoted as cursing, or sometimes "forceful expressions". In Hornblower and the Atropos, an impressed ferryman expresses his admiration by swearing several "oaths". In The Happy Return, Hornblower is put in a situation where none of the fifty-five(!) oaths he has prepared are adequate to the occasion. (One of the only aversions to the trope comes in the latter book, when the Lydia is described as being a perfect bitch under tow.)
  • Happens a couple of times in The Hunger Games and its sequel, as Katniss describes her fellow tributes Cato and Johanna "swearing like a fiend" and "scream[ing] a lot of really insulting things at me." Katniss later gets in on the action herself in the second and third books by screaming "terrible things" at people, usually Haymitch.
  • In If You Find This, a children's adventure/mystery novel, the main protagonist and first-person narrator, Nicholas Funes, is a sort of Child Prodigy. He often thinks in terms of music and when not doing so, in terms of math. Thus, at those times when one of the characters in the novel uses words that can't be printed in a children's novel, he simply states that the character "swore to the power of unwriteable."
  • In the fourth book of The Indian in the Cupboard series, while climbing up into the barn's hayloft to reach Kitsa and her kittens, Patrick falls through the weak boards and lands on top of his friend, breaking his ankle in the process. When he does, the friend cries out "Oh shoot!" Omri then notes, via the narrative, "except he didn't say 'shoot'."
  • Ian Fleming used the wonderful example "___" a few times. It's clear James Bond was referring to what he likes to do with the girl of the week . . . .
    • In Goldfinger, the title character is trying to make Bond talk, and at one point Bond tells him to go and ____ himself. Goldfinger good-humoredly replies, "Even I am not capable of that, Mr. Bond."
    • In Casino Royale we have this a number of times, including the following:
      • "No," he said flatly, "... you."
      • "For a moment he looked out towards the quiet sea, then he cursed aloud, one harsh obscenity."
  • Parodied in The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross. As protagonist Bob Howard narrates:
    "I start swearing. Not my usual 'shit-fuck-piss-cunt-bugger' litany, but really rude words."
  • In Kingdom Keepers, Maybeck swears rather frequently. However, it is never stated what he says. For example, in book 2, he says "Close the freaking door!". The very next sentence is "Only he didn't say freaking." They do this frequently. Or they simply say "Maybeck said a word that would have gotten him kicked out of class if he had been in school."
  • Played with in the Known Space series, where "Bleep" and "Censor" have BECOME swear words due to language drift. Lucas Garner is extremely smug about actually remembering why.
  • Alfred Lord Tennyson's "Lady Clara Vere de Vere":
    She had the passion of her kind,
    She spake some certain truths of you.
    Indeed I heard one bitter word
    That scarce is fit for you to hear.
  • Subverted in The Land Of The Silver Apples when the heroes are running in a rapidly flooding cave, two of the female characters are described as letting out a stream of curses and the little girl asks, "What does filthy #$@!!' mean?" Extra humor comes from the fact that a priest was among the heroes.
  • In Left Behind, Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins use this with their non-Tribulation Force characters. Usually it's done with the characters that they want to show are bad people, but don't want to have the words written for the largely-Christian audience.
  • Legacy of the Aldenata: In Gust Front, Captain April Weston, commanding the frigate Agincourt, is said to curse two minutes straight without repeating herself, in response to an official e-mail.
  • Lensman: Kimball Kinnison in Gray Lensman:
    "Did I ever ask you for a drink, you (unprintable here, even in a modern and realistic novel, for the space of two long breaths)... !"
  • Little House on the Prairie:
    • Quite common in the Little House on the Prairie books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Characters are just said to have sworn, and nothing else. There are some instances where it appears that a character has sworn, but it's not clear to the modern audience if the word used was truly offensive or the character himself was just using a substitute for an actual curse.
    • There is one instance where Laura overhears a confrontation between migrant railroad workers. The dialogue in the book is clean, but Laura notes in the narration with some shock (and, this being Laura, also some guilty fascination) that the railwaymen were using "rough language. She was hearing rough language."
    • She also quotes Pa a few times as saying "blanked" in phrases where the most logical assumption is that he actually said "damned", but there is no disclaimer explaining that Pa actually used a different word. She simply quotes him as if "blanked" was actually the word he used. Can be confusing for some young children who don't realize that "blanked" wasn't what he actually said and aren't sure what it means to blank something.
  • Lord of the Flies: Simon asks the question, "What is the dirtiest thing there is?". The narration follows, "As an answer Jack dropped into the uncomprehending silence that followed it the one crude expressive syllable."
  • The reason that all of the orcs in The Lord of the Rings spoke like British cadets instead of degenerate monstrous pillagers is that, as the appendix put it, their actual speech was too offensive to bother writing. (As he said, it was "only printable in the higher and artistically more advanced forms of literature".) As proof of this, we have the one line of genuine orc speech Tolkien ever actually published. Even the approximate translation still doesn't sound very nice:
    Orkish: Uglúk u bagronk sha pushdug Saruman-glob búb-hosh skai!
    Translation: Uglúk to the dung-pit with stinking Saruman-filth—pig-guts, gah!
    (That was one of the three translations he gave at different times, but all were in the same style.)
  • Dorothy L. Sayers in her Lord Peter Wimsey stories would also frequently use this, seeing how she was writing in a time when the standards were stricter. For example, one of her character once says something about another character that was "more flattering to his morals than to his manliness".
    • She also sometimes has Peter swear directly in the dialogue, but edits it out with hyphens.
  • The Man In The Gray Flannel Suit, in a World War II flashback:
    Tom and Hank Mahoney had been alone—the whole company had been busted up, it had been snafu from the beginning—situation normal, all fouled up, only they hadn't used the word "fouled" in those days; no word had been anywhere near bad enough to express the way they felt.
  • Maximum Ride has "holy (insert swear word of your choice here)."
  • In the children's fantasy novel The Midnight Folk: Whenever the former sailor Roper Bilges uses a profane verb, which he does often, it's obscured by verbing the nearest relevant noun.
    'It sounded like a young jackdaw got down the chimney again.'
    'I'll jackdaw them jackdaws one of these days,' he said, 'if they keep on jackdawing me.'
  • In A Map of Days, from the Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children novels, Noor calls her foster-father what is initially said as "fart-face", though Jacob explains that she actually refers to him using another word starting with "f" that he can't use.
  • Moby-Dick: Ishmael mentions that he has censored out a lot of Ahab's dialogue because nobody "living under the light of the Evangelical land" needs to hear that.
  • The Mortal Instruments uses this. Examples include, in City of Bone, Alec said something that sounded like 'ducking glass mole' and in City of Ashes, has Jace suggest that the whole cast of Gilligan's Island could do something anatomically impossible to themselves.
  • In Terry Pratchett's Nation, the narrator mentions a parrot shouting words "a 10 year old girl shouldn't know, but she was more concerned about the words she didn't know."
  • Archie Goodwin of the Nero Wolfe books does this frequently, including to himself. He claims to do it because he doesn't want to lose any readers (like this one grandma in Wichita).
  • Nina Tanleven: Occurs at least once per story.
    • In The Ghost in the Third Row, Nine tries finding Chris in the phone book, but there are over a dozen Gurleys listed. One is a cranky man who tells her he works nights and she’d woken him out of a sound sleep. As Nine puts it, “He also said several other things, but I had better not put them on paper.”
    • Also in The Ghost in the Third Row, Nine and Chris are trapped in a very small, very dark room, and don't know what to do. Chris points out that "being picky won't get them anywhere." Nine tells the reader that "actually, that was the meaning of what she said. Her actual words would probably burn this page."
    • The Ghost Wore Gray has Nine recall that Edgar Lonis, director of the play from the first book, once commented to her that one of the great secrets of acting was planting a seed in the audience's mind and then letting it grow. He then told her: "Your problem, Nine, is that once you plant the seed, you go overboard with the fertilizer." Except, as Nine also recalls, "He didn't say fertilizer".
    • The Ghost Let Go includes the line "My father said a word I don't get to use."
  • Odd Thomas usually describes profanity rather than transcribing it, often in an amusingly formalized fashion:
    He invited me to have sexual relations with myself.
  • The Outsiders has this at work in the whole book. It's usually in the second way, although there's a few lines that actually blank out a character's cussing. The fourteen year old protagonist refuses to curse and instead uses Gosh Dang It to Heck!. Whenever his older friends do curse, he only describes it.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians does this quite a lot. Mostly in Ancient Greek. (Most of the swears used, however, were considered pretty bad during the time they were used.)
    • Example with a modern day "bad word", Hera refers to Percy as "one of Poseidon's...children." Percy knows she's thinking of a much different word.
    • The same author's The Kane Chronicles has a character distinguish between "cursing" and "cussing" — amongst magic users, that's rather a significant difference.
  • One of the books in The Pigman series has the narrator explain that he will use #$%& for swears, and @#$%& for really bad swears. He then praises the usefulness of this scheme because the reader likely has a better imagination than he does.
  • Princesses of the Pizza Parlor: Princesses Don't Do Summer School: Shelby's swearing is only indicated by her being admolished with a "Shelby, language."
  • The Queen's Thief books do contain some swearing, but the harsher words are taken out with this trope. A preview of A Conspiracy of Kings contains one example that actually does a good bit of characterizing the narrator, Sophos:
    I screamed at them every curse I ever practiced when I was alone, trying to imitate the Thief of Eddis, but I doubt I sounded anything but hysterical.
  • The Railway Series:
    • Humorously in The Island of Sodor source book, a censored expletive laden rant from Sir Topham Hatt is included in the text as he expresses his frustrations with receiving Henry and not the Atlantic locomotive he originally wanted. Albeit censored, it marks one of the few uses of profanity in the entire series.
    • It's a railway after all (one that serves many mines and shipping docks too) there has to be many Sir Swears-a-Lot characters who are being censored for the audience! Peter Sam outright says that Duncan has "strong language" for his past factory; Stepney later says the same for Captain Baxter, who worked in a quarry.
  • Occasionally used in The Red Vixen Adventures depending on whose point of view the scene is focusing on. When Rolas and the Red Vixen encounter one of her enemies, she's noted as using "A short, very human, curse word." Scenes from Alinadar's perspective just have Ali letting out a "Fuck".
  • Redwall: Lord Brocktree features a searat using "very colourful language" when he breaks a key off in a lock. It's also mentioned a few times that characters are singing a Bawdy Song, but we never even get a hint of the actual lyrics (except for "Slaughter of the Crew of the Rusty Chain", which isn't so much too crude as too violent - at least the verses we see). The notoriously foul-mouthed squirrel Grood usually mumbles his curses too quietly for anyone except Jukka to hear, and when we finally see what he's actually saying, it's all in Unusual Euphemism: "Gorokkah! How'd that splitten flitten gurgletwip get up so high?"
  • Roald Dahl's Revolting Rhymes has these lines:
    And uses one disgusting word
    That luckily you've never heard.
    (I dare not write it, even hint it.
    Nobody would ever print it.)
  • The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. has an amusing subversion. In her journal, which provides the narration for her plot line, Melisande Stokes always crosses out curse words and substitutes a euphemism, as if she's written the curse in the heat of the moment but immediately regretted it. The original curse is always still plainly visible.
  • In the Rose of the Prophet trilogy, the djinn often 'made aspersions that his parenthood included a goat' and such.
  • Used frequently in The Saga of Darren Shan the word bull is used to replace bullshit and when characters swear it usually says he cursed or he swore.
  • Both types are used in The Saint books, with people 'cursing or 'blaspheming' and the occasional phrase along the lines of 'gentlemen was not the phrase he used'.
    • In one story a story a police detective starts to say "The city commissioners can go and..." before the narration informs the reader that he did not say jump in the lake, climb a tree or any of the standard options, and that it was highly unlikely that the city commissioners could actually perform the action he suggested.
  • James White loves the second version of this trope, especially in his Sector General series. Phrases like "Conway told him exactly where to go and what to do when he got there" happen at least once a chapter, making the book simultaneously incredibly vulgar and suitable for kids.
  • In Scaramouche, almost every sentence uttered by Danton features at least one (blank.)
  • From the Sherlock Holmes short story "The Solitary Cyclist": "He had a fine flow of language and his adjectives were very vigorous".
    • Appears again in "The Abbey Grange", used by the supposed culprit. "...I was standing with her just inside the window, in all innocence as God is my judge, when he rushed like a madman into the room, called her the vilest name that a man could use to a woman, and welted her across the face with the stick he had in his hand."
  • The story "The Affair of Miss Finney" by Ann Margaret Lewis has this: "Jumping to his feet, Hamming spat a word toward the young lady that I shall not record in this memoir. It was so vulgar that everyone froze with shock."
  • The "describe the obscenities in non-obscene terms" use is done fantastically in The Shining when Stephen King describes the reactions of another driver to the Magical Negro accidentally swerving across his lane.
    He invited the driver of the limo to perform an illegal sex act on himself. To engage in oral congress with various rodents and birds. He articulated his own proposal that all persons of Negro blood return to their native continent. He expressed his sincere belief in the position the limo-driver's soul would occupy in the afterlife. He finished by saying that he believed he had met the limo-driver's mother in a New Orleans house of prostitution.
  • Smoke and Shadows: In Smoke and Mirrors, the headsets are staticky. Most of the fuzzy words are recognisable swears. There are also some other forms used, including the POV character being unable to translate a co-worker's speech properly because he didn't know many French swearwords.
  • In Speak, when Melinda is talking with the principal, her parents, and the guidance counselor, the counselor asks if her parents have a strained relationship, and Melinda explained that the father said something that wasn't nice and the mother told her to go to a not-so-nice-place.
  • In the Louise Fitzhugh book Sport, the (child) characters are described as using the worst language they can think of to describe bad situations, and, when even this isn't enough, substituting the word "blank". Naturally "blank" is the only blanking expletive that ever appears in the blanking book.
  • Gerald Morris does this in his series The Squire's Tales. For instance, in The Squire's Quest, he writes, "Kai... uttered a series of short, very blunt words. Terence sympathized with him. He didn't use those particular words himself, but had to admit that sometimes they felt right."
    • And another rather amusing example in the same book, when Acoriondes is translating Alexander's conversation with his uncle. The running commentary goes something like "Alexander is saying many very vulgar words... even more... I don't think that one is even possible..."
    • From The Lioness and Her Knight:
      "I'm shocked, utterly shocked," Rhience said. "Aghast, no less. I would never have imagined that a gently born young lady like you would have even known such words, let alone utter them! And all strung together like that, too!"
  • Star Wars:
    • In the novelization of The Force Awakens, when Rey gets into the argument with the Teedo, he "gives a reply that would have been unprintable on any of a hundred civilized worlds."
    • In The Mighty Chewbacca in the Forest of Fear, the narrator often translates the Shyriiwook of Chewbacca or the Oktarian of Mayv, but in certain cases simply refuses.
      "WGHYAARRRRR!" As you can see, he was becoming increasingly frustrated with the controls. "NYARRR RYARRRR WHRRRG!" Oh dear, I hope none of you do know Shyriiwook, because that was quite rude.
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • Han Solo tends to curse in every language he knows. Naturally, we never get to actually hear any of these curses, unless they happen to be Unusual Euphemisms....
    • X-Wing: Solo Command:
      • Big Bad Warlord Zsinj calls him up to mock him and demand his surrender, only for Han to have Chewie take the call so he can wander off to direct the rest of the fleet. Since Han is the only one present who understands Shyriwook, the novel's periodic cuts back to the ongoing call reproduce Chewie's lengthy rant indirectly. It's mentioned that Chewbacca lists up the various ingredients that make up Zsinj, none of them fit for polite company.
      • Zsinj returns the favor at the end of the book, after he, being a reasonably good sport, calls Han to congratulate him on his victory, and Han, being Han, offers to let him kiss Chewie as a consolation prize. Zsinj launches into a similarly described five-minute long rant in 60 languages, with Han recording the whole thing so he can have it translated and watch it again later.
    • Apparently Wookiees have a thing for this—generally the writers are unwilling to write out "Arrn whooon urr" and such, and only a few will just translate, so just about anything they say is formatted like this trope. In Death Star, the viewpoint character, a doctor describing side effects for a treatment, doesn't understand the language and has to rely on a translator droid.
      The next comment was one 4ME-O seemed reluctant at first to translate; when it did, Uli had to hide a smile. He hadn't been aware that members of this species were so imaginative. [...] Hahrynyar snarled an offensive remark concerning Palpatine's personal hygiene that Uli was willing to swear brought a blush to 4ME-O's durasteel skin.
    • Star Wars novels seem to like the "swearing in a different language" variation, likely because in a galaxy with so many languages, it's bound to come up often. An example from Outbound Flight:
      Ar'alani muttered a word that had never come up in Car'das's language lessons.
    • Galaxy of Fear:
      Dash was right behind her, gritting his teeth and muttering something Zak had never heard before. It was either a different language or a swear word or both.
    • Planet of Twilight has:
      Sitting up, the youth said a word that Threepio knew in close to a million languages but was programmed never to utter in any of them.
    • The short story "A Bad Feeling: The Tale of EV-9D9" in the Tales from Jabba's Palace anthology has a bit where Artoo, who only speaks in beeps and whistles, apparently cusses out the title character with such a dense stream of machine language that EV-9D9 actually backs it up and slows it down in her head so she can catch all the nuances.
    • In Shatterpoint, being a Jedi, Mace Windu is more conservative in his language than most of those he meets, and is reluctant to quote them directly in his journal. (Which is somewhat ironic considering he's played by Samuel L. Jackson.
      Nick was still simmering as he helped me to my feet, muttering under his breath a continuous stream of invective, characterizing Vastor as a "lizard-faced frogswallower," and a "demented scab-chewing turtlesacker" and a variety of other names that I don't feel comfortable recording, even in a private journal.
    • From the novelization of Revenge of the Sith:
      Bail Organa was a man not given to profanity, but when he caught a glimpse of the source of that smoke from the pilot's chair of his speeder, the curse it brought to his lips would have made a Corellian dockhand blush.
    • Also from that novel, one of General Grievous' bodyguard droids aboard the Invisible Hand screeches "some improbable threat regarding its staff and Kenobi's body cavities" while Obi-Wan is busy slicing it to pieces.
  • Stray doesn't censor out mild curses like "bitch", but it does censor more profane ones. In chapter 9, it's mentioned that "Bob shouted out a very rude, but as it happened a very apposite word".
  • In Such Is Life and Rigby’s Romance, both published before 1910, “Tom Collins” (Joseph Furphy) is reporting the speech of rural workers, mostly bullock drivers. He regularly replaces “bloody” by “(adj.)” and “hell” by “(sheol)”, which is a Hebrew word for hell. In chapter 15 of Rigby’s Romance the character Dixon says “hell” so often that it is replaced by synonyms from other languages / mythologies (such as Hades, Tartarus, Acheron, Abyss, Phlegethon, Niffelheim) and occasionally by other words: as when a character is reported as asking “who the (adj. Townsville) do you think you’re talkin’ to?”. which would not please residents of that North Queensland city.
  • Supergifted: In chapter 7, when the driver of the runaway tanker truck finds said truck in the Mercury family's swimming pool, he lets loose what Donovan refers to as "a series of words that would have sent my mother running for a sponge to wash his mouth out with soap".
  • In one book of the Sword of Truth series, Annalina describes Zedd's reaction to one of Nathan's plans with, "Zedd has succumbed to a bout of loud cursing and arm flailing, he is swearing oaths about what he intends to do to Nathan, I am sure he will find most of his intentions physically impossible."
  • In her nonfiction book Talk to the Hand, Lynne Truss uses the word fuck a few times in the introduction, but then adds a note saying, "The author apologises for the high incidence of the word 'Eff' in this book," and thereafter uses Eff even in direct quote.
  • Tarzan: In The Return of Tarzan, Edgar Rice Burroughs has one of his villains call Tarzan "Name of a name!" This could be a reference to the old-fashioned French expletive, nom d'un nom, or literally "the name of the name", a circumlocution for the blasphemous nom de Dieu.
  • In Transpecial, Warren uses "a word he hoped Iterk didn't know."
  • At least one time in Treasure Island, the narrator Hawkins says that he won't repeat a curse that a pirate makes.
  • A Tree Grows in Brooklyn has two separate examples of this:
    Then her [Katie's] father came down in his long underdrawers and, with quiet but intense profanity, told the fellow [Johnny] what he could go and do to himself.

    "Let her give the kids a ride around the block. It ain't no skin off your teeth." (Only he didn't say "teeth," to the snickering delight of the youngsters clustered around.)
  • The Twilight Saga:
    • From Breaking Dawn, Leah manages to do this in werewolf form.
      And then, when he added those last three words, her hackles rose and she was yowling a long stream of snarls through her teeth. I didn't have to be in her head to hear the cussing-out she was giving him, and neither did he. You could almost hear the exact words she was using.
    • There's also one with Alice:
      Alice said a word that sounded very odd in her trilling, ladylike voice.
    • Also, in Midnight Sun Edward says a word he'd "never said before in the presence of a lady", prompting Cleolinda Jones to speculate:
      Given the "curse words" in the other four books, I'm going to assume the word is "dang."
  • Used by Cody in Vampire High.
    He told me to go do something that I'm pretty sure was physically impossible.
  • Vatta's War: At one point a character is quoted to have told someone else to do something "Kylara was sure was anatomically impossible".
  • This crops up frequently in Jacqueline Wilson's books; justified as she mainly writes for children; somewhat averted in her novels for teens, where the worst characters get away with saying is "bitch", "bastard", "slut", "hell" or "oh my god."
  • Warcraft: In Cycle of Hatred, an orc uses the foreign language variant when arguing with a human. It's actually mildly plot-relevant. The human doesn't speak Orcish, so he doesn't realize how bad the insult is, or how likely the orc will attack him.
  • Warhammer 40,000: Ciaphas Cain: The Traitor's Hand has a scene where a strike team from the 597th attacks a Slaaneshi-run brothel and are, for lack of a better term, inspecting the artwork. The porn is mostly left undescribed, other than one of the troopers wondering aloud if a scene depicted is even anatomically possible. Cain says it isn't and that even if it was, it would be against regulations.
  • Warhammer Fantasy: In Massacre in Marienburg, the protagonist, a city watch captain, receives orders he doesn't like from a rival captain he doesn't like either. He loudly questions the rival's parentage and makes suggestions on how he can procreate without a partner. He still follows the order.
  • The Wheel of Time alternates between this trope and Gosh Dang It to Heck!: for example, the Old Soldier Uno is frequently described by the narration and characters as Sir Swears-a-Lot, but his written dialogue doesn't have any invective more severe than "bloody".
  • In the Wing Commander novel Fleet Action, when a Kilrathi baron demanded humanity's surrender, Admiral Tolwyn said, "Direct your inquiry to President Quinson. I'm sure he will tell you to go perform a certain impossible anatomical act." When the baron specified he wanted the fleet's surrender, Tolwyn "replied with what he assumed the President would have said."
  • In the first Wings of Fire book, Clay hears "Tsunami's voice shouting curses".
  • A Wizard in Rhyme: Subverted in The Witch Doctor, when a holy knight in training gets entangled in some underbrush:
    He kept crashing around, coming up with an amazing variety of expletives that had absolutely no need to be deleted.
  • Wuthering Heights averts this trope, which was so unusual at the time that an introduction written by Charlotte Brontë specifically praises Emily Brontë for not giving in to the common convention.
  • In Wylder's Hand, any scene where Stanley Lake is moved to strong emotion is likely to have at least one moment where the narrator gracefully declines to report exactly what he said next.
  • Young Sherlock Holmes: From Red Leech:
    Matty said a single word that expressed his shock. Sherlock assumed it was a word he'd picked up along the waterways in his travels.
  • In Spud Sweetgrass, the title character gets expelled from high school for saying two words to the principal.
    The second word is "you".
    • Later, he sees the principal coming out of a strip club, and calls him out. The principal says the same two words back to him.
  • City of Bones by Martha Wells: The narration often notes that many characters, Khat the Sir Swears-a-Lot in particular, curse all the time, but it's never shown in dialogue and the reader never sees any of the actual invective. The book is set a thousand years After the End, so the curses might not translate.
  • In Richard Roberts's You Can Be a Cyborg When You're Older, the main character Vanity Rose has an actual, built-in profanity filter which prevents her from swearing any time that she tries to in her narration, or in the actual story itself.
  • In 'Salem's Lot, Kid Hero Mark Petrie has pinned Barbaric Bully Richie Boddin with his arm bent back, and tells him to say "uncle." All we know of his response is "Richie's reply would have pleased a twenty year Navy man." Played for Laughs though, since there's plenty of cursing in the rest of the book.
  • In The Guns of Avalon by Roger Zelazny, Corwin visits a long-abandoned house and notes in the narration that "There was an obscenity scrawled on the wall in the foyer."
  • In Rain Reign, Rose's father says, "That Jerry fired me today." Rose adds that instead of "Jerry," he actually said a word she's not allowed to say.
  • Get a Grip, Vivy Cohen!: Nate tells Vivy, "I have my own life and it's kind of important. Not that anyone around here gives a flying Triceratops about that." Vivy adds that he didn't really say "Triceratops," but she changed it because she doesn't want to use a bad word.
  • In Elliott & Win, Win listens to Donny swear in his sleep. "He used words Ma would have had a fit over, and I don't mean 'friggin' and 'craperoo.'"
  • Nathaniel from Mindblind replaces swear words in other people's dialogue with "(R-rated word)."
  • In The Water-Babies, the Lemony Narrator refers to Tom's familiarity with "words which you have never heard, and which it would have been well if he had never heard".
  • Goblins in the Castle: In Goblins on the Prowl, when William and Fauna head into the library to find the book that was supposed to be for him, this happens a couple of times when he can't find it:
    The surface of Karl's desk was empty, the book nowhere in sight.
    William said a bad word, then tried to open the drawers.
    They were locked.
    He said an even worse word.
  • Mellie from Small Persons with Wings isn't allowed to use religious swears until she's sixteen or biological swears until she's eighteen, so she replaces other people's swearing with Minced Oaths.

    Live-Action TV 
  • One episode of Babylon 5 features Bester and Garibaldi both in C&C at the same time. Bester enters, then picks up on a mental thread related to Garibaldi's conversation with Sinclair. As he's about to leave, Bester stops, turns around to face Garibaldi (he'd been facing Sinclair up until that point), and says, "Anatomically impossible, Mr. Garibaldi, but you're welcome to try."
  • The Big Bang Theory:
    • In one episode, Raj whispers something to Howard, which he translates as Raj comparing Sheldon to "a hygiene product used by women who are not feeling fresh as a summer's eve". Penny adds, "And the bag it came in."
      • Why they did this is is unclear, as the term they're alluding to was used in a later episode.
    • From a later episode: "Yeah, she's pushy, and yeah, he's whipped, but that's not the expression."
    • From "The Robotic Manipulation":
      Penny: Leonard said "cockamamie"?
      Sheldon: Actually, I'm paraphrasing. Having been raised in a Christian household, I'm uncomfortable with the language he used. And to be honest, I'm not entirely comfortable with "cockamamie".
  • In Blackadder Goes Forth, Blackadder's memorable line "I believe the phrase rhymes with 'clucking bell'" is his eminently understated response to finally receiving orders to lead his troops over the top.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer:
    • In the penultimate episode of Season 2, Buffy is on the phone with Willow, and they're talking about the argument they had with Xander.
      Buffy: Yeah, Xander was pretty much being a— Willow! Where did you learn that word? My God. You kiss your mother with that mouth?
    • Season 9 has Spike tell some of his minions to go do something "anatomically impossible".
  • In the Bunk'd episode "Let's Bounce", when Destiny was being overly selfish regarding the suggestions for the cabin with Zuri pretending to write everything down, a frustrated Zuri gave up and left, giving the clipboard to Destiny.
    Destiny: You didn't write down anything I said. And that is a very bad word.
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show: In the episode "A Word a Day", Richie gets in trouble for innocently using a curse word in school. Thanks to whispering and judicious cutting, the word itself is never heard, but we can tell from Rob's horrified facial reaction that it's a whopper.

  • The Flashpoint episode "Acceptable Risk" is told in Whole Episode Flashback form as various team members describe the incident to an investigator. At one point during the flashback sequence, Spike discovers that the security system is one he's not familiar with and he has to tell Ed that he's unable to unlock the door separating Ed and Wordy from the subject.
    Spike: (in flashback) I haven't dealt with a 2700 before!
    (Cut back to present)
    Investigator: At which point your team leader responded with some... colorful language.
  • In one Friends episode, Joey gets Phoebe a job as an extra on Days of Our Lives, where she annoys the director with her incompetence. Relaying the director's frustration, Joey tells Phoebe:
    Joey: He can be a little rough around the edges, so I'm gonna replace a word he used a lot, with the word "puppy". Okay, so he said, "If your puppy friend doesn't get her puppy act together, I'm gonna fire her mother-puppy ass.
  • An in-universe example on Game of Thrones happens when Jon reads Ramsay's very threatening letter requesting that he send Sansa back to Winterfell and what will happen if he doesn't. He reads the description of how Ramsay will murder every wildling and then abruptly stops reading, describing it as more of the same. Sansa snatches the letter and reads aloud the next part, which describes how Jon will watch as she is raped.
  • In an episode of The George Burns And Gracie Allen Show, Gracie keeps asking George how long until their train arrives in Los Angeles:
    George: Gracie, you've asked that question fifty times since we left San Francisco last night.
    Gracie: Well, I have to keep asking, 'cause you keep giving me different answers. ... And you get so mad! When I woke you up at three-thirty this morning, you said—
    George: I know what I said. (Beat) And I apologize.
  • The Good Place has this as an in-universe trope. Because the characters are in the titular Good Place, their curse words are automatically replaced, Gosh Dang It to Heck! style, e.g. "shit" with "shirt", "bitch" with "bench", and "ass" with "ash". This allows the show to actually be pretty foul-mouthed despite remaining compliant to the PG-13 rating. In one episode, Eleanor tries to say "cock block", but it comes out as "cork blork", prompting her to mention how appreciative she is that the rhyming was preserved. When characters are in the Bad Place, this filter is not present.
    Eleanor: I mean, somebody royally forked up. Somebody forked up. Why can't I say "fork"?
    Chidi: If you're trying to curse, you can't here. I guess a lot of people in this neighborhood don't like it, so it's prohibited.
    Eleanor: That's bullshirt.
  • Grimm: Wu to Nick at murder scene quoting an employee of the deceased, "He said, and I quote, 'I'm surprised somebody didn't stick a tire iron in him before this.' Actually, that was a paraphrase. I left out the bad language because I couldn't write that fast."
  • Have I Got News for You had great fun mocking a BBC News broadcast which quoted a politician's scandalous remarks to a policeman as "Best you learn your [swearword] place. You don't run this [swearword] government. You're [swearword] plebs." Quoth Claire Balding: "What a bunch of [swearword] fuckwits."
  • In "How the Finch Stole Christmas" (sensing a pattern?) from Just Shoot Me!, the narrator explains that Finch "expressed his displeasure with color and flair, using words that our censors will not let us share".
  • Often used on How I Met Your Mother, since the show's Framing Device is that Ted is telling these stories to his kids.
    • This is used most notably in "How Lily Stole Christmas", in which "Grinch" is used to substitute for a much stronger word. Although there is one point where she takes all the Christmas decorations, leading Ted to say "What a Grinch!", which the voiceover informing the kids that "That time, [he] actually did say 'Grinch'."
    • Extended to calling a joint a sandwich and going as far as to making the characters eat a (very large) sandwich and giggling like stoners, and carrying around smaller sandwiches in rolled-up plastic baggies.
    • And, in a later episode, they made... sandwich brownies.
    • Another episode begins with Ted describing how he and Robin had some new neighbors upstairs, who liked to "play the bagpipes" frequently, and loudly. The scene ends with Ted finally shouting "shut the bagpipes up!" at the ceiling.
    • Another visual one: the thumbs-up sign was used as a substitute for the middle finger in one episode.
    • In "The Wedding Bride":
      Barney: Kiss her! Kiss her! Kiss her!
      Future Ted: He didn't say "kiss".
      (a little bit later)
      Barney: Hey, kiss off! Who the kiss are you?
    • In the episode "The Murtaugh List":
      Danny Glover: I'm too old for this—
      Future Ted: Stuff! He said, "I'm too old for this stuff."
    • When Ted's mom remarries and her husband presents Ted with a painting of himself and Ted's mother, both naked with a strategically-placed guitar.
      Future Ted: Kids, there was no guitar.
    • "But I didn't say fudge."
    • An implied one in "Nannies". To help get over a recent breakup, Barney begins a festival he calls "Bangtoberfest". Except, what synonym for "bang" would work better in a portmanteau with Oktoberfest?
    • A later episode has as its conflict, Marshall's son making more "confetti" while his diaper is changed. It's obviously not supposed to be confetti, given how everyone treats it as disgusting. It's not very subtle.
      Lily: Holy confetti!
  • During the M*A*S*H episode "Carry On, Hawkeye", Hawkeye has Radar call around asking for supplies and extra surgeons when most of the camp gets sick with the flu. Radar is on the phone with one officer, and is stopped cold by what the officer says to him; when Hawkeye asks him what it was, Radar says the officer told him to do something, but it was physically impossible. Hawkeye then grabs the phone and asks for supplies; he then listens for a minute, hangs up, and tells Radar, "You're right, Radar; he has no understanding of human anatomy." Presumably, the officer told both Radar and Hawkeye to go fuck themselves.
    • Might've been to go screw themselves; at the time, even that comparitively mild term would probably have been seen as inappropriate for network television at the time the episode aired. Either way, while the exact wording may be up for debate, it's pretty clear what the officer was getting at.
  • In-universe on one episode of NewsRadio, Bill goes on a short-lived crusade against the profanity in rap music.
    Bill: These are actual rap lyrics: "Life ain't nothin' but gritches and money", only they don't use 'gritches'. They use a word that rhymes with 'gritches' that starts with a B.
    Matthew: Britches?
  • In one episode of NUMB3RS, when Charlie and Don are recalling how one of their friends (who ultimately grew up to become a professional surfer) had been afraid of the water when they were children.
    Don: The high dive. When we were kids, I'd be up there doing back flips off of the thing and Nathan would be frozen stiff.
    Charlie: I remember that. I jumped in before he did. He told me that I had courage. (Beat) He used a more colorful term.
  • Star Trek: Enterprise:
    • In the episode "Cold Station 12", when Arik Soong is using the Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique on Dr. Lucas. At one point, Lucas leans forward and whispers something into Soong's ear, to which he replies, "That language is very unbecoming for a man of science."
    • In "Terra Prime", xenophobic humans were using language which ambassadors at the meeting to form the Coalition of Planets described as "language that is not programmed into the universal translator".
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: Captain Picard of all people, describing his youthful encounter with Naussicans:
    I stood toe-to-toe with the worst of the three and I told him what I thought of him, his pals, his planet and I possibly made some passing reference to his questionable parentage.
  • Stargate SG-1:
    • Played for Laughs in the episode "Fail Safe" when Jack is explaining to General Hammond how a negotiation with the Asgard went south.
      Jack: And after that, I kinda lost my temper.
      Hammond: What exactly does that mean?
      Daniel: Let's just say Jack made a reference to Freyr's mother.
    • Made even funnier once you remember that Asgard are all clones.
    • In another episode, Vala mentions she got in some trouble in an alien village when she suggested that one of the locals "attempt procreation... with herself".
  • The Two Ronnies: Ronnie Barker's "Nell of the Yukon" contains this verse:
    Then up jumped Black Lou, and his face went bright blue,
    (Which astonished a passing physician)
    And he used a foul word that no one had heard
    Since the time of the Great Exhibition.
  • In The Vicar of Dibley, Hugo and Geraldine discuss Hugo's father's reaction to the news that he is dating Alice:
    Hugo: Well, I can't actually tell you what he said, because... because you're the vicar. But, well, let's say a certain word is represented by another word that sounds like a little like that word, like, um, like "duck", for instance. (Beat) He asked me what the duck I was playing at, said he didn't give a flying duck if I ducking loved Alice ducking Tinker, and if I ducking kissed her again, he'd make sure I was well and truly ducked.
    Geraldine: Well, duck me!
  • In The X-Files episode "Jose Chung's From Outer Space", Scully describes what she saw, and we see it, with Detective Manners saying "bleeping" over his profanity. Then, we cut back to Scully talking with Chung, and she explains that "he didn't actually say 'bleeping'". Chung replies that yes, he's familiar with the detective's speech style... Most of his curses are little gems: "Like blankety-blanking BLEEP I will!", and Scully's reported speeches as well: "Mulder, he says they found your bleeping UFO."

  • In Big & Rich's "Saved", the chorus's first and last lines states "Yeah, last night, I told the devil where to go."
  • Eric Bogle:
    • "Do You Know Any Dylan?" has him react to the titular question:
      And I usually reply
      In my own quiet way
      With a totally indecent suggestion
    • And again in "World Cup Fever":
      We cast doubts on their paternity
      And their mothers' chasity
      Their courage and ability
      And their sexual preference
  • Subverted in mewithoutYou's "The Fox, the Crow, and the Cookie". The third verse begins:
    Using most unfriendly words / that the village children had not yet heard / the baker shouted threats by canzonette / to curse the crafty bird.
    • However, the "most unfriendly words" turn out to be fairly innocuous:
      You rotten wooden mixing spoon! / Why you midnight winged raccoon! / You better bring those pastries back / you no-good burnt black macaroon!
  • Ray Stevens' "Gone for Good";
    As she backed out of the drive she hit my Harley
    Drug it underneath her car down to the street
    Took a baseball bat to my "See Rock City" mailbox
    Hollered something at me that I can't repeat
  • Rodney Atkins' "Watching You":
    My four-year-old said a four-letter word
    It started with "s", and I was concerned
    • Similar to an earlier country music classic, "Kids Say the Darndest Things", by Tammy Wynette:
      My first-grader just said a four-letter word
      And it sure wasn't "love"
  • "Keep the Customer Satisfied", by Simon & Garfunkel:
    I get slandered, I get libeled
    I hear words I never heard in the Bible

  • Barry Cryer has appeared on Just a Minute quite frequently, and often claims people refer to him as "that noun off the television".
  • Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me:
    • A "Not My Job" segment asking skier Mikaela Shiffrin about the Gloucestershire cheese race mentioned how the local authorities once tried to stop the race by telling the 86-year-old woman who makes the cheese every year that she'd be liable for any injuries sustained.
      Peter Sagal: Her answer cannot be repeated on public radio. (audience laughter) Although I'm sure it was said in a lovely Downton Abbey accent. (more laughter)
    • One round of "Who's Bill This Time" had Bill censor a comment while quoting an analyst, and Peter makes it clear that wasn't exactly what was said:
      Bill: "This guy is such a total pussycat, it's stunning."
      Peter: That was Fox News analyst Ralph Peters, who, by the way, left off the word "cat" in the original quote...
  • From The Infinite Monkey Cage:
    Robin: To quote Chuck D when I saw Public Enemy at Glastonbury, "There's no point being a dumb fellow with a smart phone." Except he didn't say fellow. He said motherfellow. Except he didn't say motherfellow.

  • A surprising version in the profanity-laden Hamilton: early in "Rap Battle #1", Jefferson tells Hamilton that "if the shoe fits, wear it". The final line of Hamilton's response is "turn around, bend over—I'll show you where my shoe fits!". Presumably, this was done to make the rhyme work, as Hamilton has had no qualms cursing before or after that moment.
  • In the 2015 Met Opera production of The Merry Widow, when Baron Zeta sends his assistant Njegus to find Danilo at the nightclub Chez Maxim and bring him to the more respectable party at the home of the protagonist, who they're trying to get him to marry.
    Baron Zeta: Did you tell him the Fatherland demands it?
    Njegus: He said the Fatherland was starting to get on his nerves... again, I'm paraphrasing.
  • Invoked in A Streetcar Named Desire. Blanche, in describing how her family's wealth was squandered over several generations, refers to "fornications—to put it plainly" and "the four-letter word".

    Video Games 
  • Exile/Avernum III has a few sailors who constantly pepper their speech with gibberish-as-narrator-replaced-profanity.
  • Fallen London:
    • The game provides this excellent example, as a riposte to a woman making insinuations in regards to your heritage and relationships with certain kinds of farm animal:
      "You spit foul recriminations and vicious calumny. Ladies faint dead away and gentlemen stagger under the barrage. Your target runs, weeping, with her hands over her ears. You follow her! Your tirade continues in the street, where hansoms careen hastily off and urchins fall from rooftops. You pick up your victim's dropped letters and wave them as a final salute. You are spent."
    • The failure message for that storylet is pretty excellent as well:
      Three ladies faint. So do three gentleman and a passing waiter. Two cats fall off the roof and and an elderly horse outside keels over. You are denounced in two newspapers and a sermon. What words! You have definitely gone too far this time.
    • And in another storylet:
      The argument goes on for a good hour. It explores the pedigree, the reputation and the anatomical idiosyncracies of both participants in some detail. It's not exactly soothing, but it is entertaining.
  • The Kingdom of Loathing Item-of-the-Month "My Own Pen Pal kit" finds you an (NPC) penpal, who sends you a rather Mad Libs-like letter with an item attached to it each day. One of the sentences that might be generated is about a teacher who told him that if you ignore a bully, he'll leave you alone, and that his dad says it's "a crock of bullcrap (except he didn't say bullcrap, he said a bad word)".
  • Used in Kirby Battle Royale of all places, where one of the Camera Crew Waddle Dees states that he hopes Meta Knight keeps his language clean in the arena, since he’s recording every word.
  • An NPC in LEGO Marvel Super Heroes does this as a Shout-Out to Snakes on a Plane:
    NPC: Director Fury told me specifically to 'get these snakes off this gosh-darned Helicarrier'. I may be paraphrasing slightly.
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda has an in-universe discussion board for the crew of the Tempest. One message on it:
    Gil: No need to panic about the drive core noise this morning. Just a stress test. There's nothing wrong with an 0500 wake-up call.
    Liam: [Profanity Deleted By InfoBoard VI—You're Welcome!]
    Liam: Adjectived verbing nouns, Gil!
    Cora: Liam, if the VI learns to censor ALL language, I'm making you reprogram it.
    Jaal: Educational, in a way.
  • Nintendo Wars: In Advance Wars 2: Black Hole Rising, in the Green Earth campaign mission 'To the Rescue', a Green Earth soldier reports to CO Eagle that the Orange Star force bearing supplies for them had been besieged by the Black Hole army, and had rejected the latter's recommendation to surrender. The exact wording of the response provided by CO Sami was apparently less than civil...
    Soldier: Commander! Black Hole has demanded that Orange Star surrender.
    Eagle: Hm... I believe Sami's commanding the Orange Star forces... What was her reply?
    Soldier: Well, in a word, she turned them down flat.
    Eagle: What exactly did she say?
    Soldier: Um... I'd rather not say. It wasn't the most... polite response.
    Eagle: Be that as it may.
    Soldier: Er... How about I write it down on this paper, and then you can read it?
    Eagle: Hm... ... ...? Ha... Ha ha ha ha!!!
    Soldier: Commander?
    Eagle: She certainly is outspoken! It would be a shame to let her get captured by Black Hole.
    Soldier: Er... Yes, sir, it would.
  • In Overwatch: Character Wrecking Ball is actually a hamster using a translator, and thus one of his voicelines:
  • Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Trials and Tribulations: During the first case when you play as Mia defending a young Phoenix Wright who wears a pink jumper with a large "P" on it, accused of murdering a fellow college student. Mia points out a contradiction in in his testimony, upset that he lied to her, and Phoenix bursts into tears causing this exchange:
    Grossberg: Mia, you made our client cry!
    Mia: Let him! That "P" on his chest doesn't stand for Phoenix anyway!
  • Virtue's Last Reward, although more for the sake of realistic dialogue than censoring.
    Alice: I admit I have a few choice words for Zero, but "stupid" isn't one of them.

  • The Adventures of Dr. McNinja covers profanities with black boxes reading things like "POTTY MOUTH", "OH MY", "FAMILY FRIENDLY COMIC", "FILTH", "FLARN"... and on one occasion, a pirate shouting, "HE SAID A BAD WORD!"
  • Played with in this Captain SNES: The Game Masta strip. While most swearing is uncensored in the comic, present-day Alex uses this trope while narrating the flashback of his "epic event" of swearing that was meant to repulse the Sailor Senshi enough so that they would leave and get out of the line of fire. He admits to not actually remembering what he said and mentions several legends about it, but in the background of the legend montage panels, one can see the faded words, "Fuck! Shit! Piss!" repeated over and over again in that order in all caps. Unfortunately for him, thanks to how time works in Videoland, all anyone else witnessed was the montage.
  • Erfworld has one that's actually plot-relevant (maybe). Parson is the only character who ever tries to swear, but in his dialogue it's always replaced with "boop". It's also subverted at the very end of the first book:
    Parson: Game over? Yes. Dream over? ...No. Boop. Y'know... every time I swear, you remind me. You are controlling me. I mean you. "Erfworld." So who did this, huh? You? Or me? What d'you have against obscenity, anyway? You're fine with this obscenity. You brought me here to do this. I'm the real tool. Well... I won't be a gamepiece. You hear me? I'm a player! FUCK YOU!
    • After that point, he gains the ability to swear at will for unclear reasons. (The actual reason was on the other side of the fourth wall: Erfworld the webcomic was now hosted on its own site.)
    • There is also a brand of magic in Erfworld called shockmancy , which is mostly used for explosions, lightning and similar visually impressive displays but it also has different, shocked into silence meaning. Every time Parson swears, other characters feel like he is casting a weak shockamancy spell on them. It is implied that things were not always as cutesy or censored as they are now. And die and everything with death is also considered a swear word.
  • Girl Genius gives us this, after a case of Agony of the Feet, though the filter is a bit more refined than what Agatha actually meant.
  • Gunnerkrigg Court replaced what are implied to be swears with white words written in black boxes.
    Eglamore: That guy is a silly sack of doo-doo. Showing up after all these years like nothing's happened? Boy! If it were up to me, I'd hurt him a lot.
  • In this Housepets! strip, Tarot is asked why King wasn't along for their adventure in the Housepets! 5000 BC storyline. She replies with a comment that his emphatically negative response to being invited to join the adventuring group ended with "a crescendo of creative profanities".
  • Newshounds uses an interesting version of this trope: swearwords are "censored" by being blacked out with scribbling.
  • Paranatural: On Chapter 8 Page 15, a character's swearing is depicted as Gosh Dang It to Heck!, with the narration indicating that the actual speech is more profane, describing it as "censored here for readers of faint temperament."
  • In Prophecy of the Circle, it gets used in-universe at one point. When Shanka relates how he confronted his mother about cheating on his father, he only says "I called her what she is" (with a flashback panel showing the woman's clearly shocked expression).
  • Schlock Mercenary: Ennesby uses General Xinchub's detonator codes to send him a message demonstrating Ennesby's extensive obscenity collection, which is only vaguely described after the fact.
    Tagon: I see you've just been exposed to Ennesby's weapons-grade vocabulary.
    Jevee Ceeta: My stomach is in my throat right now. It's trying to spit acid on the parts of my brain that remember reading his message.
  • Skin Horse has an in-universe example with Nick, whose Brain in a Jar "AI" is filtered, turning cusswords to horse-poking other words. And the filter learns; Nick gets away with Yiddish for a bit until the filter catches on.
  • In-Universe in Spring Trapped in much the same way as The Good Place, as Five Nights at Freddy's World (AKA Springtrap's personal hell) replaces swearwords with Symbol Swearing, much to Springtrap's annoyance. Flashbacks to his lifetime have the swears uncensored.

    Web Original 
  • In The Amazing Digital Circus, the majority of the swearing is censored as the setting is a digital playground ment for all ages (according to Caine, one of the world's non-player characters).
  • Britanick: Played with in the episode "Fudge", where it starts with "fudge"/That's not what I really said, and advances to this for "Chickenfaggot", antisemitic thoughts, and covering Nick with mustard.
  • The Little Painter: When the troll Pierre was to be fed to saw his ugly picture of Princess Creme Brule, he fell in love with the woman in the photo. He stated that when he found her...
    Narrator: Uh, he said some things I can't repeat.
  • Protectors of the Plot Continuum seems to like this trope a lot. They will also happily use profanity from any 'verse other than our own.
  • An ancient bit of hacker-lore quite predating the web is the poem "The Song of Hakawatha" (a pastiche of H.W. Longfellows "Song of Hiawatha", one stanza of which reads:
    This occasioned some frustration
    Caused the noble Hakawatha
    To commit profane expletives
    Caused him to cry out "Debug her"
    (Or, I think that's what he shouted).
  • In Underverse, we have Fresh!Sans who can cause this with his mere presence as shown when he's near Fell!Sans as all of Fell's swears get replaced with "Fresh" substitutes much to the latter's chagrin.
  • Whateley Universe: Multiple:
    • Fey (an ancient Sidhe) and Carmilla (descendant of Great Old Ones) have cursed in languages which have been dead for millennia.
    • Ayla and the Birthday Brawl (Chap 6):
      Hank unleashed several choice phrases that impugned the Monkey King's ancestry, family heritage, sexual proclivities, and recreational interests. Obviously, Hannah Declan had learned more from her time on Army bases than how to shoot firearms.
    • Odds and Ends (Part 1): In Jade and Mule's combat final, has the scenario's fanatic "calling [Jade] things that the sims team should probably get in trouble for putting in a scenario for freshman girls."
  • Zero Punctuation: Yahtzee plays with this trope: while he does swear uncensored all the time, the visuals accompanying his swearing are sometimes remade into something more polite and/or silly. One example in his review of the game Manhunt, where he gives his opinion on whether over-the-top fictional violence has any correlation with real-life violence:
    Yahtzee: Short answer: No (Visual: just the word "NO"). Long answer: No, and go fuck yourselves, you ignorant, scare-mongering cockbags (Visual: "NO, AND I CONSIDER YOUR ARGUMENT MISINFORMED").
  • Not Always Right: This post includes the beautiful line:
    I got a nasty message on my answering machine from him. I won’t transcribe it because it’s predominantly assertions that my parents weren’t married, that I was a female dog, and that I was suffering from an Oedipus Complex.

    Western Animation 
  • Bluey: When the "Tradies" are at work, the girls report to Chilli on their activities, such as them saying "the word Dad used when the lawnmower wouldn't start" or "the word you said when the dishwasher broke".
  • The Fairly OddParents!:
    • The episode "The Terrible Twosome" has Wanda and Foop chide Poof for using profanity, even though he only says "Poof, poof" like he usually does.
    • In "A Sash and a Rash", Chloe wishes to become a slacker and ends up being so lazy that she relies on grunting to communicate. Cosmo interprets her grunts, but declines to translate one of her grunts due to it being salty language.
  • In the Sheep in the Big City episode "Flock, Up in the Sky", Sheep gets fed up with his friend the X Agent being overly protective and beating up everyone who gets within ten feet of Sheep. The narrator translates the two sheep's bleating, but refuses to translate Sheep's rebuttal to his friend's claim that his excessive protection is a small price to pay, implying that it's because Sheep swore at the X Agent.
  • In the classic Simpsons episode "Itchy & Scratchy & Marge", Marge writes a letter to the creators of The Itchy & Scratchy Show protesting its overly violent content. We get a scene of the show's creator, Roger Meyer, dictating the studio's response, and then Marge's reaction, with one key phrase omitted.
    Meyer: So let me conclude by saying...
    Marge: ..."and the horse I rode in on!?"
  • Thomas & Friends:
    • In the episode "Mavis," an angry farmer tells the titular diesel "just what she can do with her train". Made even funnier by the fact that the American narrator is none other than George Carlin.
    • In "James Goes Buzz Buzz", a swarm of bees break loose from their hive and warm themselves on James' boiler, and one bee who burns his foot stings James on the nose as retribution. After James tries unsuccessfully to shoo the bees off his boiler, this exchange occurs:
      James' Driver: It's no good, James. We'll just have to go back to the orchard and fetch another hive.
      Narrator: James' reply was drowned by the sound of buzzing.

  • The Russian language has a delightful array of profanity built right into the language with ways to turn many ordinary words into swears. Many classic Russian jokes involve gleefully stretching it to its (grammatically correct!) limits. So the subversion is when a sailor stubs his toe, the narrator explicitly quotes the most creative and poetic Cluster F-Bomb he can improvise, and ends it with the rather late profanity filter "and then swore profusely."
    • Also, there is a joke about two soldiers hired to fix wiring in kindergarten. After the job is complete, all the kids started swearing horribly. One of the soldiers described the situation to his commander, "And I said: Comrade, can't you see that molten lead is dripping on me?"
  • The Never Ending Quest:
    "What the heck?" Astra exclaimed most unroyally. "Pardon my French." Actually she didn't say heck, and it wasn't exactly French either.

    Real Life 
  • One of Dorothy Parker's more oft-repeated quotes comes from a Halloween party she attended. Told that other guests were "ducking for apples", Parker replied: "There, but for a typographical error, is the story of my life."
  • A GQ article written by one of George W. Bush's former speechwriters uses this trope.
    He always believed Hillary Clinton would be the Democratic nominee. "Wait till her fat keister is sitting at this desk," he once said (except he didn't say "keister").
  • On web forums and other places with rules regarding what sort of language can be used, phrases like "Forum rules prohibit me from expressing my opinion of this" tend to show up.
  • William Manchester's The Death of a President was a best-selling (but since out-of-print) history of the JFK assassination, starting shortly before the departure to Dallas and ending with the funeral. One chapter describes the tense standoff in Parkland Hospital. The Dallas medical examiner, citing local jurisdiction over a criminal investigation, attempted to stop the Secret Service from transporting Kennedy's body to the airport and thence to Washington. Manchester recounts Kennedy aide Ken O'Donnell asking M.E. Earl Rose for an exception and being rudely denied. Manchester then describes O'Donnell spitting out "a swart oath recommending monogenesis" followed by "We're leaving." The actual quote from O'Donnell to Rose was "Go fuck yourself. We're leaving."
  • During Clint Eastwood's "invisible Obama" performance at the 2012 Republican National Convention, Eastwood asked the nonexistent President, "What do you want me to tell Romney?" After pretending to listen for a moment, Eastwood said, "I can't tell him to do that! He can't do that to himself," implying that the phantom Obama had told Romney to go fuck himself.
  • When Louis Armstrong got irate about the 1954 Little Rock School crisis, in which the then-Governor of Arkansas, Orville Faubus, ordered the National Guard to block black students from entering a segregated high school, a reporter interviewed him about it and quoted Armstrong as calling Faubus an "ignorant plowboy". Armstrong had actually referred to Faubus as a "no-good motherfucker".
  • During the Iran-Contra crisis of the 1980s, Assistant Attorney General Charles J. Cooper testified that when Attorney General Edwin Meese learned of the scandal, he "said something analogous to oh darn."
  • In 1971, Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau got in a bit of hot water for apparently mouthing the words "fuck off" at his parliamentary opposition. When asked what he had been thinking, Trudeau recounted a sanitized version of the story in which his exasperated grumbling was replaced with "fuddle duddle." Decades later, his son and fellow Prime Minister Justin Trudeau admitted that Pierre "didn't just say 'fuddle duddle'."
  • In the 2019-2020 NFL Divisional playoff game between the Minnesota Vikings and the San Francisco 49ers, the 49ers ran a trick play in an attempt to draw the Vikings offsides, but the quarterback ended up playing it so deep that he confused one of his own linemen, who was caught on an open mic saying, "What the fuck?" This is how Chris Collinsworth commented on it:
    "When Jimmy [Garoppolo] jumped back underneath one more time, it looked like one of those lineman said — I'll paraphrase — 'What the heck?'"
  • Also in the NFL, after the insane 2021 playoff game between the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs, ESPN commentator Chris Berman opened his weekly "Primetime" segment with, "Holy — I'm leaving it out."
  • "He said, 'You've gotta snap the ball a little quicker, guys.'"

Alternative Title(s): Implied Profanity