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Parenthetical Swearing

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Mamma-mia! Now I can't go for that type of pizza, because it has the P-word in the name!

Sebastian: Well, your objections have been duly noted and summarily overruled.
Sarah: Yes, sir!
Sebastian: How come when you say "yes, sir" it kinda sounds like "fuck you"?
Sarah: Practice!

This language trope is most common to family fare: A character's spoken line contains no profanity whatsoever, but the tone and phrasing used by the actor is so obvious that the audience will hear the intended profanity just the same.

This trope does not include made-up swear words or Last-Second Word Swap. The line is spoken with perfectly mundane words and the actor's inflection, tone and facial expression is what conveys the more intense and profane parenthetical. Super-trope to Witch with a Capital "B". Often shows up in Bowdlerized or TV-dubbed versions of movies. It also occurs a lot in the political arena.

Compare Stealth Insult, Precision F-Strike. Not to be confused with Narrative Profanity Filter, where a character really does swear—it just doesn't appear directly in the text, or with Mondegreen Gag, which is when a character doesn't swear, but a word they say can be misheard as a swear word.


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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • One issue of Marvel Universe Secret Wars II has Phoenix (the Rachel Summers variety) express sympathy for The Beyonder's hurt feelings, while her face makes it clear she'd kill him if she could. (By the way, the reason his feelings got hurt was that she wouldn't let him manipulate her into destroying the universe.)
  • In the Grand Finale issue of Superior Spider-Man, all it takes is one quip for the Green Goblin to realize he's not dealing with the so called "Superior" one whom the Goblin had been taunting and playing with, but the original "Amazing" one, who always beats him, and whose return he was not expecting. He says "It's you", but the inflection is way more Oh, Crap!.
  • In Tintin, many of Captain Haddock's Flowery Insults aren't even offensive words to begin with (they include stuff like scientific terms and medical specialties), but he throws them around with such bile it does feel like he's talking like a conventional sailor.

    Fan Works 
  • In This Bites!, after learning the truth of Ohara, Tsuru responds to Sengoku's orders with a "Yes sir" that sounds far more like "Fuck you".
  • Asuka's "The Reason You Suck" Speech in Neon Metathesis Evangelion makes it clear she's using the term "Sir" they way most people would use "Dumbass" or "Bastard". Understandable considering she's just been criticized for "an embarrassing victory" and asks if he'd prefer "an aesthetically pleasing defeat".
  • In Deku? I think he's some pro..., Aizawa and other underground heroes have been calling Izuku "Deku" because Izuku gave it as his hero name after a rough day at school. They are naturally horrified when they learn what it is supposed to mean, but Izuku tells them he doesn't mind, since it sounds different when they use it. In the first class, after hearing Bakugo calling Izuku like that, Aizawa understands what Izuku meant by that.

    Films — Animated 
  • The Princess and the Frog: "Now which one of you naughty children been' messin' with the Shadow Man?!", said in such a way that "naughty children" implies "dumbasses." It helps that a Cool Old Lady is saying it.
  • In Ice Age: Continental Drift, Diego tells Shira that she has a way of making "thank you" sound like "drop dead".
  • In Kim Possible Movie: So the Drama, Shego returns empty-handed from the mission to capture Nakasumi, and vents her frustration at one of Drakken's minions:
    Minion: Brain tap machine ready for prisoner.
    Shego: There is no prisoner — go tap yourself!
  • In Turning Red, Mei tells Tyler "Forget your money, and forget you!" Her tone implies that if she was in a film rated higher than PG she would be using a different F-word.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Tom Sizemore's character in Black Hawk Down perfectly demonstrates the below Real Life military example. He responds to every moronic/suicidal order with an increasingly exasperated "Roger that."
  • In 300, Leonidas tells the traitor Ephialtes "May you live forever." Truth in Television, as according to the Greek historian Herodotus, Leonidas had said something very similar, and it was considered a grave insult in Spartan culture, who venerated death in battle.
  • In The Empire Strikes Back, we get this exchange. Han's reply is basically a shout.
    Han Solo: Afraid I was gonna leave without giving you a goodbye kiss?
    Princess Leia: I'd just as soon kiss a Wookiee.
    Han Solo: I can arrange that. You could use a good "kiss"!
  • In Return of the Jedi, the way Emperor Palpatine spits the word "Jedi" at Luke Skywalker makes it sound like the worst curse Palpatine can think of.
    Luke Skywalker: You've failed, Your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me.
    Emperor Palpatine: (seething) So be it...Jedi.
  • In The Graduate, as Elaine is about to marry Carl, Ben shows up screaming Elaine's name, with the Robinsons and Carl mouthing profanities which aren't audible, but are noticeably seen in the angry looks on their faces.
  • Star Trek (2009): Spock puts a certain amount of inflection and vitriol into the respectful Vulcan salutation, "Live Long And Prosper", so that it sounds like a Precision F-Strike.
  • In the first Sister Act movie, Sister Mary Clarence says "Bless you" in a way that makes it clear the word she would use, if she wasn't in a nun habit and surrounded by nuns, begins with an F.
  • Perversion For Profit has the main character say "Come join the fun!" in a way that makes one think he really said "Darn, I just stepped in a huge pile of dog-poo."
  • In an inversion of the Western Animation example below, in X-Men: The Last Stand, a captured Mystique attacks her interrogator, pins him to the wall and growls out "homo sapien" like it's something disgusting.
  • Major Shears in The Bridge on the River Kwai manages to do this with the single word "You."
  • Early in Return to Oz the shrink utters an "Oh, dear," with a particular tone.
  • The Carry On films seemed to invert this trope by making swear words sound like normal conversation. To name a few, "the Blasted Oak", "the Bleeding Ceremony" and "the Old Cock" — the first and last being a street and a pub, and the one in the middle being the name of a wedlock ritual. Say these three phrases out loud like it's a parenthetical swear if you don't believe us.
  • John Wick:
  • The Hasty Heart: Margaret's explanation of Lachlan's past as the poor child of an unwed mother gives Yank, who can't stand him, the chance to call him a bastard.
    Margaret: He's a foundling; his mother wasn't married. Do you know what that means?
    Yank: He sure is.
  • In Life with Father, the closing line was originally "I'm going to be baptized, dammit!" The Hays Code forced the removal of that mild expletive...but you can still hear the dammit quite clearly in William Powell's delivery.
  • Used and spoofed in Thank You for Smoking, in which tobacco executive BR calls Senator Finistirre an "Environmentalist" - the subtitle that pops up handily translates it as "Pussy".
  • In the Wild Wild West movie, a narrow escape ends with James West and Artemus Gordon jumping into a slimy pond full of...something. Gordon manages to keep his head above water...and then remains stone-faced as he sees the drenched West winding up for a sneeze, barely flinches when he gets a face full of what may or may not be mud, and states, "Bless you."
  • According to Spirited (2022), in Victorian London, the phrase “Good Afternoon” had pretty much the same meaning as “F-k off”. Present used the phrase fairly regularly during his life as Ebenezer Scrooge.

  • Discworld:
    • In Thief of Time, Lobsang is distracted from stopping the Perfect Clock when his master Lu Tze strains himself trying to slice time too thin; by the time Lu Tze persuades him to go on alone, it's too late. When Susan learns what happened, she calls Lobsang "you hero!" in the same tones someone would say "you idiot!"
    • Additionally, in Interesting Times, one of the Silver Horde is the subject of Saveloy's attempts to make him stop swearing every single sentence. He manages to make him use Unusual Euphemisms instead, but then it is observed that he could turn the air blue just by saying "socks" (which becomes Hilarious in Hindsight once you read Monstrous Regiment).
      • Especially funny because Saveloy, who's the one who put together the swearword conversion chart, is the only one who knows what he's TRYING to say when he uses an Unusual Euphemism. We don't get a translation, but the thing that he translated to "misbegotten wretch" was apparently pretty shocking.
    • In Wyrd Sisters, Duke Felmet is described as the sort of person who gets more polite and restrained the angrier he gets, to the point where he can give the cutting edge of a severe dressing-down to the phrase "Thank you very much."
    • In The Truth, Sacharissa can say "you utterly ungrateful person" like it's a curse.
    • Night Watch has a Sergeant who doesn't swear for religious reasons, so uses this trope to compensate. At one point he calls a bunch of militia recruits "You sons of mothers!"
    • Snuff shows that coppers learn to inflect "Sir" so that it sounds like "trembling arsehole".
  • The character of Tzetzas in The General Series is usually pronounced as if it were a curse. "He gives graft a bad name." There's a Running Gag that whenever his name is brought up in conversation, Suzette tells the person/people saying it to stop swearing.
  • In And Another Thing..., someone is said to say the name "Zaphod" "as if it were a curse". Justified, perhaps, because it goes on to say that in many languages, it now is.
  • In Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, McGonagall refers to Umbridge as "headmistress", and the author notes that she "pronounced the word with the same look on her face that Aunt Petunia had whenever she was contemplating a particularly stubborn bit of dirt".
    • Carries over into the movie adaptation, in which she and Umbridge are seen "politely" sniping at each other several times.
      Umbridge: Something you would like to say, Minerva?
      McGonagall: Oh, there are several things I would like to say!
  • One scene in Great Expectations has Pip's sister say "Lord bless the boy!" in a way that makes it sound quite the opposite.
  • The Star Trek: The Next Generation novel Q-in-Law has a wedding taking place on board the Enterprise, about which Worf is not at all pleased. When he informs his captain of the arrival of guests for impending "festivities," the text notes that he pronounces the word as if it were a profanity.
  • The following line in A Song of Ice and Fire, regarding Jon's unpopular and much-derided decision to employ a former rent boy as his personal manservant:
    Ser Malegorn stepped forward. “I will escort Her Grace to the feast. We shall not require your...steward.” The way the man drew out the last word told Jon that he had been considering saying something else. Boy? Pet? Whore?
  • In the novelisation of Scarface (1983), Tony Montana is passing through Miami airport when a customs officer asks him (as the only Cuban-American male) to stand aside for a search for drugs. The 'sir' was framed in quotes. Turns out Montana is a distraction for the actual drug mules, like the nun and the nice all-American family.
  • In Wuthering Heights;
    "Thrushcross Grange is my own, sir," he interrupted wincing, "I should not allow any one to inconvenience me, if I could hinder it—walk in!"
    The "walk in" was uttered with closed teeth, and expressed the sentiment "Go to the Deuce!"
  • Jeeves would, of course, never actually swear, but Bertie Wooser did on one occasion point out that Jeeves has a way of saying "Well, sir," and "Indeed, sir," that sometimes leaves the impression that only a rudimentary feudal sense of what is fitting restrains him from substituting those phrases with the words "Says you!"
  • In one Horatio Hornblower novel, Hornblower's navigator gives him increasingly pessimistic updates on the stronger enemy ship that's pursuing them in a Stern Chase and says "my duty, sir" when Hornblower starts showing signs of irritation. Hornblower replies "I'm glad to see you doing your duty" in a tone that effectively conveys "damn your duty" (a phrase which he can't actually use because it would contradict the Articles of War).
  • The Secret Life of Bees: Lily and August's favorite snack is Cokes with salted peanuts poured into the bottle. They ask June if she wants any, and she bitterly responds with "I was told it was gonna be Cokes and peanuts." Lily notes that she said "Cokes and peanuts" like you would say "snot and boogers."
  • In Thunderball, Bond happens to be nearby for an argument with a clerk where, the text confirms, the "damn you" hung in the air unsaid when the client finally goes along.
  • In Xandri Corelel, this appears to be an important part of Anmerilli diplomacy.
    "Councilor oar'Saran," Kalemi Ashil interrupted, "Councilor Sendil and I understand how important this is to you." And never had I heard so clearly the unspoken sentiment "and we have no fucks to give about it." But politely.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Penn illustrates this trope in the Penn & Teller: Bullshit! episode on profanity, by insulting a dog in a soft-spoken voice, then angrily screaming at it "I LOVE YOU, DOG!". The point of this exercise is to show the viewers that the dog reacts to the human's tone of voice, not to what actual words he says.
    Penn: (reassuringly) No, it's okay. Really, I hate your stinking guts.
  • Angel example: There is a moment in the third season where Cordelia is forced to overhear a part of Angel's Epic Rage against the way The Powers That Be treats Cordelia. She only hears the part: "She is a rich girl from Sunnydale who likes to play Superhero. She doesn't have what it takes!" Considering Cordelia's reaction, he may as well have said "A Spoiled Bitch..."
  • An episode of Supernatural has Rufus, one of the boys' allies, mutter, "I'm too old for this." Four guesses as to what everyone heard at the end of the sentence. Plus, he kinda looks like Danny Glover.
  • Babylon 5 has Bester's name treated like this. Anyone who has spent five minutes in the same room as Bester and is NOT a telepath (and quite a few who are, for that matter...) would understand completely.
  • It's been noted that Project Runway fashion consultant Tim Gunn can make the word "implausible" sound like a swear word.
  • Occasionally used on Have I Got News for You: "Perhaps he should go sack himself."
  • How I Met Your Mother does this sometimes because of the Framing Device of a man telling a story to his children. The story's been sanitized. Various episodes have examples like "Grinch", "Kiss", and the thumbs-up.
  • The way Jerry Seinfeld always greets his Sitcom Arch-Nemesis Newman, one could easily substitute any swear word in for his name.
    Jerry: Hello...Newman.
  • The Daily Show played a clip of professional persecution junkie Bill Donohue ranting about how "every Lenten season" Catholics in America have more political correctness to put up with; Jon noted that "Lenten" really sounds like a swearword when you say it in that tone.
  • Emily Prentiss from Criminal Minds has an uncanny ability to make the phrase "Yes, ma'am" sound like a particularly blunt and vicious "Fuck you sideways and the horse you rode in on too".
    • Apparently, she picked it up from one of their FBI consultants. It's a habit you get into when you know every word you say is going to be tape-recorded...but that the recording will then be typed up as a transcript that won't catch tone of voice.
  • Doctor Who:
    • In "Destiny of the Daleks", the Fourth Doctor tells some Daleks "just back off!" in a way that sounds so strongly like "fuck off!" that there are still debates online today contemplating whether or not he was swearing in Gallifreyan ("zzhspack off!").
    • Somehow, Arthur Darvill manages to make "so far beyond weird" sound a bit like "so fucking weird" despite saying it in an utterly sweet and friendly tone in Doctor Who's "P.S." short.
  • In Star Trek: The Original Series, McCoy was always making "Vulcan" sound like a swearword. Even Scotty got one in "Day of the Dove", towards Spock, when his and the rest of the crew's minds are taken over by the alien-of-the-week. When Spock tries to restrain him, Scottyshouts "Get your Vulcan hands off me!" but the "V" sounds suspiciously like an "F".
  • Worf in Star Trek: The Next Generation employs parenthetical swearing practically every few episodes, usually when speaking about things that offend his Klingon sensibilities, like diplomacy.
  • In Star Trek: Voyager, Kate Mulgrew more than once delivers the line "My name is Captain Janeway" like a death threat.
    • Also an unsuccessful one in "The Cloud". After dressing down Neelix, she says "Dismissed." Being neither in Starfleet nor the military he doesn't get the implied command and she has to translate it. (see quotes page).
  • Throughout Star Trek in general, "I'll make a note of that in my log" (and similar variations) seems to be Starfleet for "I don't give a shit."
  • JAG: In "Shadow", the villain Grover mandates that the naval personnel address him as either "Sir" or "Mr. Grover". He gleefully notices when Meg manages to do exactly that while making it sound as disrespectful as possible.
  • "Look that up in your Funk 'N' Wagnalls!"
  • Keith Olbermann could turn the word "sir" into both a profanity and the filthiest insult known to mankind.
  • On Everybody Loves Raymond, during a multi-episode story arc in which Marie and Debra are refusing to speak to each other, Raymond begs them to make up, calling them "you two mothers" in the process. He's allegedly making an appeal to it being Mother's Day, but his strained and frustrated tone clearly indicate what he actually means.
  • This is invoked on Billions. Bobby and "Dollar" Bill are having a conversation inside a soundproof room with glass walls so people on the outside can see everything happening inside but cannot hear what is being said. The two men are having a tender moment where they are telling each other that they are like brothers and would do anything for each other. However, their body language makes it seem like they are having an extremely nasty shouting match full of swearing and obscenities. It's part of a Batman Gambit to make a rival investment firm try to recruit Bill who then can feed them false information about Bobby's business dealings.
  • On M*A*S*H, Frank frequently reacted to friendly greetings from his bunkmates as if they were insults, but the only one to actually employ this trope against him was his CO, Henry Blake.
    Henry: Our supply line's been cut.
    Frank: Who did that?
    Henry: The other side, Frank!
  • Young Sheldon: In "Mitch's Son and the Unconditional Approval of a Government Agency", Missy discovers how to use seemingly innocent words in place of swear words. Mary knows exactly what she's doing, but is powerless to stop her.
  • Discussed in a season one episode of Gilmore Girls, when Lorelai invites a boy Rory likes over for movie night...without discussing it with her. She thought she was being helpful, and Rory tries to explain how mortifying it is for her mother to insert herself into her love life.
    Lorelai Stop saying "mother" like that.
    Rory: Like what?
    Lorelai: Like there's supposed to be another word after it.
  • Andor almost had Maarva perform a Precision F-Strike against the Empire in her pre-recorded farewell message at her funeral, but Word of God says Disney vetoed it and they had her say ”Fight the Empire” instead. The sentiment still comes across.

    Mythology & Religion 
  • This comes up in places in some translations of The Bible:
    • In the Book of Job, Satan dares God to strike Job to take away all that he has and see if he won't "bless" God for it, in which the intended meaning (as pointed out in most other translations) is to "curse" God.
    • In other places, people take the self-malefactory oath, "May God do thus and so to me (and more besides!) if...", with the words "thus and so" standing in for the actual curse.
    • And in 1 Samuel 20, King Saul realizes that his own son Jonathan is more loyal to rival for the throne David than he is to him. Some translations render his words to Jonathan as "You son of a perverse, rebellious woman!" This...doesn't really hide his real meaning. The Living Bible went for a closer, decidedly more vulgar translation.
  • In Acts of the Apostles Acts 23:1-5, Paul is brought before the Sanhedrin to stand trial, and when he declares that he has lived in good conscience to the present, the high priest Ananias orders Paul to be struck on the face. Paul says that God will judge Ananias for being tried by the law and being slapped contrary to law. When the Sanhedrin rebukes him for reviling the high priest, Paul apologizes for not recognizing Ananias as the high priest, with a touch of sarcasm in his apology.

  • C. W. McCall's "Convoy", featured in the 1978 movie of the same name, apparently uses "trucking" as a lyrical euphemism for the F-bomb:
Come on and join our convoy, ain't nothin' gonna get in our way,
We're gonna roll this truckin' convoy across the U.S.A., convoy....

  • In Wooden Overcoats, Eric's catchphrase is "enjoy yourselves," and usually, that's precisely what he means. However, on a few occasions when someone (usually Rudyard and/or Antigone) has managed to truly piss him off, he can say "enjoy yourselves" in a tone that very clearly indicates he means "fuck you."

  • In the Cabin Pressure episode "Abu Dhabi", Martin self-importantly demands that Douglas call him "sir". Douglas manages to pronounce "Yes, sir" like a particularly vile epithet. He then proceeds to refer to Martin exclusively as "sir" in derisive tones until Martin begs him to stop.

    Stand-Up Comedy 
  • Don Rickles would have to be the modern progenitor and senior grandmaster of the art form. His signature line of 'You hockey puck' even managed to make its way into a children's cartoon.
  • From Dane Cook's Vicious Circle special:
    I said, "God bless you"...but it kind of sounded like "Cover your fucking mouth." Incognito.
    • PEACE OFF!
  • Oddly enough Sam Kinison, who normally had no problem bombing the neighborhood, used one when describing his second ex-wife: "God bless 'er!" delivered in a jaw-clenched tone that clearly implies an alternate meaning.

  • At one point in Hair, a character says "Thank you, Sandy"; the stage directions call for it to be intoned as "Fuck you, Sandy."

    Video Games 
  • I. M. Meen: The titular antagonist constantly refers to the protagonist as a "bookworm" with a weighty contempt, almost as if he's saying a slur.
  • Mass Effect gives us a particularly wonderful line on the subject:
    Ashley Williams: "Why is it that whenever someone says 'with all due respect' they really mean 'kiss my ass'?"
  • Mass Effect: Andromeda: A variety of crooks and the tetchier krogan tend to refer to Ryder as "Nexus", and gosh do they pour a lot of hatred behind it.
  • In Nancy Drew: Stay Tuned For Danger, after Rick narrowly dodges a falling klieg light, he screams, "Shhheesh!" in a way that makes it clear what the writers were really thinking.
  • StarCraft has the Vulture unit who responds to your commands like this.
    Vulture Rider: "I read ya, sir."
  • In World of Warcraft Battle for Azeroth, Baine Bloodhoof is outraged at Warchief Sylvanas Windrunner for leaving Saurfang to die against the Alliance forces attacking. Sylvanas retorts that it's what he wanted, then told Baine that if it troubles him, he could join him or go tend to the living. Baine never breaks his glare but growls out, "For the Horde." as he leaves in a tone that clearly says he's not doing this for her.
  • In Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, when Dracula insists that he "was called here, by humans" wishing to pay him tribute, he pauses slightly and hits "humans" with weighty contempt.
  • Fenrich from Disgaea 4: A Promise Unforgotten has two catchphrases that are meant to compliment his Lord Valvatorez — "All is for my Lord" and "X is one of my Lord Valvatorez's many formidable powers." However, while he does use them to legitimately praise Val, he uses them just as often for whenever Val says or does something stupid (which happens a lot) with a very weary tone. It's easy to see the phrases as Fenrich more or less saying "Goddamnit, Lord Val!"
  • In Knights of the Old Republic, Juhani, a Jedi party member with anger management issues, encounters Xor, a racist, washed-up mercenary who tells her that she doesn't belong here. She fires back with, "I have as much right to be here as you do, SIR!", saying "sir" with as much derision as she can muster.

  • "The gnome was muttering to himself, too, in a low, unpleasant manner. He didn't so much curse as deliver each word as if he were cursing, so that 'Butter and bedknobs!' came out sounding like something you'd use to send a demon back to the abyss." - Little Creature and the Redcap by Ursula Vernon.
  • In this Full Frontal Nerdity, after Lewis suggests that Frank should improve his livestream by falling asleep, Frank responds thusly:
    Frank: Thank you! Thank off! Go thank yourself!
  • Digger: When Digger, a committed Nay-Theist, realizes she's speaking to a manifestation of a god, she tries to be polite, yet...
    Statue of Ganesh: In the seven hundred years that I have been a temple statue, I have never heard someone utter the words "a god" in the same tone that one might describe, oh... foot fungus.

    Web Original 
  • Atop the Fourth Wall—"Our hero, ladies and gentlemen!" (Being said, of course, in as sarcastic a tone as possible and with an expression of obvious disdain.)
  • In the Homestar Runner cartoon "Donut Unto Others", Homestar opens a doughnut stand near Bubs' Concession Stand. Bubs comes up to Homestar and makes small the top of his lungs, in a threatening tone, and with his face solid red. Homestar, ever-oblivious, takes a few minutes to realize "Are we in a fight?"
  • In the RWBY lore video covering the Schnee Dust Company, narrator Qrow Branwen refers to the Schnee family as "S-N-O-Bs" in a tone of voice that suggests the "N" should be silent.
  • One Twitter post that went viral suggested "spicing up" Facebook posts by adding parentheses to words.
    "Congratulations" on your new baby!
    Congratulations on "your" new baby!
    Congratulations on your new "baby!"
    • Another similarly viral one pointed out you could offend anyone by doing Air Quotes while saying the title of their job.

    Western Animation 
  • In one episode of X-Men: The Animated Series, Wolverine infiltrates an anti-mutant hate group, the Friends of Humanity, by posing as a trashy, mutant-hating bigot. He plays the role to the letter, down to growling "mutant" like a swear word (or, more realistically, a racial/ethnic slur).
  • In Gargoyles, just about any time Goliath says "Xanatos."
  • In one scene of A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown arrives to direct the Christmas play and is applauded by the other kids... except for Snoopy, who boos him. Charlie's response is to sadly say "Man's best friend...".
  • Subverted in The Simpsons Season 2's "Bart's Dog Gets an F", when Santa's Little Helper graduates from obedience school:
    Emily Winthrop: You son-of-a-bitch, good show! note 
  • In the pilot movie/first two episodes of Young Justice, Kid Flash takes issue with Robin's disappearing act antics and calls him on it: "Way to be a team player, Rob." He comes down hard on the nickname.
  • In The Amazing World of Gumball, there was this exchange:
    Gumball: Man, What a pile of beans.
    Darwin: Dude, watch your language, you'll get us in trouble.
    Gumball: Well I'm sorry, Darwin, but it is. It's a big, steaming, pile of beans.
    • Gumball is frequently a master of this trope, with his catchphrase of "What the what?"
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender: "You're too much of a pushover to do anything about it." (Also note that Toph is cracking some nuts of Aang's as she says this to him.)
  • In the sequel series to this The Legend of Korra Toph once again does this when she says to Bolin's girlfriend Opal "How did you end up dating a dipstick like him?" She says it like "dipshit" instead.
  • Batman: The Animated Series: In "Perchance to Dream". Bruce is prepared to jump off a tower to prove he's dreaming, but Mad Hatter asks what if he's wrong: "Then I'll see you in your nightmares!"
  • Thomas & Friends:
    • This happens in "Mavis", when the titular character gets stuck on a level crossing:
    Narrator: An angry farmer was telling Mavis just what she could do with her train.
    • In "Donald's Duck", after being told by Donald that he quacks as though he had an egg laid to stop him from talking too much about the Great Western heritage, Duck indignantly says to Donald "quack yourself!", which sounds similar to "fuck yourself."
  • In GIJoe, whenever Destro addresses his boss as "my dear Cobra Commander", substitute "bless your heart" and you'll get the intended effect.
  • Wander over Yonder: In "The Fremergency Fronfract" after Lord Hater, loopy from the anesthetic used during a trip to the dentist, fires on his own troops and has to be knocked out, he awakens in the infirmary and tries to convince himself the events of the episode (which involved bonding with Wander and publicly embarrassing himself) were just a dream. Then Peepers dryly responds "If only, sir, if only...", putting a little more venom into the word "sir" than usual.
  • In the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic episode "Princess Spike", after Spike knocks over a fragile statue with a sneeze, he mutters, appropriately enough, "Ah, bless me..."
  • Inverted in Rick and Morty by Scary Terry, an Expy of Freddy Krueger who seriously overuses This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!. When Rick and Morty help him with his recurring nightmares, he manages to make the word "bitch" sound like sincere thanks.
  • In Captain Simian and the Space Monkeys, Spydor would frequently use such intensifiers as "monkey-loving" or "monkey-flipping" to compensate for not being able to say "motherfucking" in a children's cartoon.

    Real Life 
  • Everyone in the Southern US knows that "Bless your heart" usually isn't a "blessing." While it can be used in a nice way, the phrase itself is, more often than not, used as a much more polite way of calling someone an idiot (compared to Northerners, Southerners are very big on things like manners and etiquette). It can also be a type of preemptive apology, using it to sweeten a not-so-nice comment ("Bless his heart, that's the ugliest baby I've ever seen.")
    • Similarly, 'gotta/God love you/him/her' means "I despise...," and "I'll pray for you" means "I hope you rot in hell." Also, if someone asks you to do something you don't want to do, you say, "I'll pray over/think about it," meaning "I'd rather eat ground glass."
    • One actually recognized by Northerners, usually to their dismay, is "Thoughts and prayers", meaning "I do feel bad about this, but it's not my problem," or even, "I don't care about this at all, but it's good for my image to pretend that I do."
  • In his memoir, Rogue Warrior, Captain Dick Marcinko reports calling bad officers "sir" but meaning "cur."
  • Anyone who works in customer service or has to deal with customer complaints on a regular basis at their job can tell you that part of dealing with such a job revolves around hiding thoughts like "go to hell" in words like "I'm sorry to hear that."
  • One skill people quickly pick up in the military is the ability to make the phrase "Roger that" sound like "You're an absolute moron. I can't believe I have to take orders from you."
    • The US Navy and Coast Guard also have "Shipmate," which is usually used by a superior about to seriously chew out a subordinate. It's impressive how much disdain and disgust can be poured into that word.
  • The Anglo-EU Translation Guide, or "what British people are actually saying."
  • One viral image showed a teacher's note where one kid called another a "Hanzo main". The teacher has no idea what that is but recognized it was clearly intended as an insult (Hanzo players having a reputation as being The Millstone on Overwatch teams due to being popular with inexperienced or just plain bad players).
  • This can also be done with non-verbal signals. If executed in a suitably sarcastic manner, giving someone the "thumbs up" sign (traditionally a "Good Luck" Gesture) can pretty much become the equivalent of Flipping the Bird.
  • Given the right teenager, the right inflection, and to be fair, the right maternal figure, it is possible to pronounce "mother" like it's half a word.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Saying Nice Things Harshly


"Alice ducking Tinker"

"Engagement". David Horton is thrilled to hear that Hugo has found a girlfriend -- and then elementally enraged when he finds out it's Alice Tinker, as we find out when Hugo relates the outcome of the conversation to Geraldine slightly more genteelly than David's version.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / ParentalMarriageVeto

Media sources: