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Unusual Euphemism

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You're talking about screwing, right? Because it actually would've been a lot easier to have just said that.

"I apprehended the accused and advised him of his rights. He replied, 'Why don't you ram it up your pimhole, you fusking clothprunker.'"

The characters are talking about an embarrassing issue by using a rubber-ducking euphemism that the scriptwriters just made up.

Many Science Fiction shows make up such curse words so as not to offend Standards and Practices, probably because these expressions can pass as Future Slang.

Can sometimes even be the result of censorship: see the Bowdlerization: Film subpage.

Rather than being used to talk about an embarrassing issue, may be used to discuss something of questionable legality without attracting attention. If used to talk about one's personal body parts, the trope is I Call Him "Mister Happy".

Sister trope to Sexual Euphemism. Contrast Unusual Dysphemism. Compare to Smurfing, Never Say "Die", Foreign Cuss Word, Pardon My Klingon, Gosh Dang It to Heck!, Curse of the Ancients, Hold Your Hippogriffs, Getting Crap Past the Radar and Informed Obscenity. Super-Trope to Gay Euphemism, which is about avoiding directly using homosexuality-related terms.


A Date with Rosie Palms attracts a lot of them. See also Lampshaded Double Entendre. If a character interprets an innocent phrase as one of these, you have Is That What They're Calling It Now?. Intercourse with You songs and, of course, bawdy ones sometimes have a lot of these.

Examples Subpages:


Other Examples:

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  • Irish comedian Dylan Moran discusses how, even in modern times, topics such as homosexuality are still dressed with euphemisms.
    "Well you know what they say about John, don't you?"
    "Actually, no, I don't. What do they say?"
    "Well, you know, that he's..." (raises right knee into air)
    "You know, he's still picking up twigs in the springtime... (beat) ...he likes his toast done on all three sides."
  • Any verbified noun is a euphemism for drunk, according to Michael McIntyre.
    "Did you have a drink last night?"
    "Are you joking? I got utterly gazebo'd."
  • Patton Oswalt did an infamous bit combining this with Gosh Dang It to Heck! while telling about how producers for network (as in censored) programming wanted the same material he usually delivered, but in a censor-friendly way. The results were rather disturbing.
    "I'm gonna fill your hoo-ha with goof-juice!" That is fucking horrifying!

    Comic Strips 
  • For Better or for Worse used "boxcar" to represent swearing (for aphasic Grandpa Jim), and "going roadside" to indicate having sex.
    • "Foob."
  • Pearls Before Swine had Pig crying out in pain "Ohhhhhhhh my Oompa Loompas" after taking a hit to the groin.
  • Doonesbury:
    • It is known for substituting inappropriate words with a description of the words in parens, for example (expletive) or (body part)
    • In one example an angry Frank Sinatra lets loose with an "obscene gerund" which puzzles the medium aware target of his rage.
  • In FoxTrot, Paige once told Peter to "eat spit and die".
    • In another strip, when Andy asked Jason how it was like golfing with his father, Jason replied that it was "colorful". Andy then asks whether he meant the color of nature, the ball, the clubs, or his dad's orange plaid golf pants, Jason elaborated to mean that he was actually referring to Roger's language. Cue Roger swearing.
    • Lampshaded in another strip, in which Peter stubs his toe and shouts things like "asterisk" and "dollar sign," and then remarks that "comic-strip curse words leave something to be desired." Jason helpfully suggests he add some daggers and lightning bolts. Oh, *$&!
  • Baby Blues had at least one in the form of "child-safe cuss words".
    Daryll: Dingy-dangy dog-gone heck to phooey!
  • In one Bloom County comic, Opus is writing a personals ad for a woman who is seeking "intense physical affection," but doesn't want to sound crude. Opus suggests "snugglebunnies" as an alternative euphemism, and the woman insists that he use "sweaty snugglebunnies" instead.
  • Pogo: "Rowrbazzle!"
  • The January 4, 2015 Beetle Bailey strip has the base chaplain suggest to Sarge that he use the word "grawlix" in place of profanity. As in the actual word "grawlix".
  • In one of Lynda Barry's Maybonne storyline strips, Brenda refers to an "F.U. and an Elvis", some sort of sexual act, being forced on her. The euphemism use serves as an in-universe Parental Bonus, as she's getting the message to Maybonne via her little sister Marlys, who doesn't know what those things are.

    Films — Animation 
  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit:
    • "Applesauce!" This is coming from Baby Herman, an old-timer in a toon baby's body. He uses euphemisms a few times in the movie. To be fair, "applesauce" was a common explicative in the twenties, used to denote frustration or disbelief, the way Herman used it.
      Baby Herman: My problem is I got a 50-year-old lust and a 3-year-old dinky.
      [later in the same scene]
      Baby Herman: The paper said Acme had no will. That's a load o' succotash.
    • A subversion — it's obvious what is meant by Jessica and Marvin Acme "playing patty-cake". They are really playing patty-cake.
  • In Fantastic Mr. Fox, all swear words are efficiently replaced with "cuss". People in the audience who catch on shouldn't have any trouble deciphering the uses of "cluster-cuss" and "cussin' with their heads", for example. In the background of one scene, "CUSS" is written in graffiti on a wall.
  • In The Tinkerbell Series much strange fairy slang is used. Including, but not limited to: "Who gives a pile of pebbles?", "Flitterific!", "Splinters!", "Teetering Teapots!", "By the second star!". And from the book: "Fly with you", "I'd fly backwards if I could" and the popular slur for humans: "Clumsies."
  • In Bambi, the owl says "twitterpated" as a euphemism for "smitten".
  • In Penguins of Madagascar, Skipper is not too comfortable in lederhosen:
    Skipper: These 'hosen are riding up in my Bundesliga.
  • The Little Mermaid (1989) has "Jumping jellyfish!" as an euphemism.
  • When Naveen crashes the Charlotte's wedding in The Princess and the Frog, she exclaims, "Cheese and crackers!"
  • Toy Story has Mr Potato Head say "Son of a building block at the sight of Woody!"
  • Combined with Thank the Maker in Cars where cars say things like "For the love of Chrysler!" and "Ford Almighty!"
  • Storks: Hunter orders Junior to "liberate" Tulip. And then bluntly and repeatedly makes crystal clear that he means to fire her.
    Hunter: If I'm not being clear, I mean fire her!
  • Zootopia.: Assistant Bellewether comes out with "Oh, muttonchops!" when frustrated.
  • Frozen: ♪♫ "Arendelle's in deep, deep, deep, deep... snow!" ♪♫

    Pro Wrestling 
  • In WWE, Kurt Angle and Booker T once had a Shout-Out to Die Hard when Booker asked Angle, "You really think you have a chance, Mr. Cowboy?" Angle's response: "Yippie-kai-yay, Mother Hubbard."
  • The independent wrestling company CHIKARA promotes itself as family-friendly and discourages foul language. This led to fans chanting "Holy Poop" after impressive moves or dives.
  • The Rock used a lot of these, notably using "pie" as a nickname for vaginas, and "strudel" as a nickname for penises.
  • John Cena, vocabulary constrained by WWE's new PG policy, has recently made "Elimination Chamber" a euphemism for "ass". Runs into Department of Redundancy Department when he starts talking about "kicking people's elimination chambers" and then going to the Elimination Chamber PPV and "kicking more elimination chamber".
    • Double Subverted. Contrary to popular belief, the word 'ass' can be and is said by John Cena and others in the PG era. He only did that in one or two promos Just for Pun... it would have turned into a Cluster A Bomb otherwise.

Examples (Bowdlerization):

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Repo Man, a cult movie which was broadcast on network TV with the expression "motherfucker" repeatedly dubbed as "melon farmer." The voices are done by the original cast members, and the choice of words was made by the director as a humorous commentary on censorship.
  • The Big Lebowski contains a scene where an enraged John Goodman smashes up a car and repeatedly yells "Do you see what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass?" On TV, it becomes "Do you see what happens when you find a stranger in the Alps?" and "...When you feed a stoner scrambled eggs?" This is quite funny, because it makes absolutely no sense story-wise, and leaves one wondering why they didn't simply bleep the offending words out. The answer is the Coens themselves apparently wrote the new lines for Goodman to read. One that isn't added later on is when The Dude calls The Big Lebowski for a "human paraquat".
  • The UK's ITV network was pretty infamous for this in the early 1990s. Probably the worst example was their dub of RoboCop (1987), though the film was shown late at night. Clarence threatens to shove a cocaine operation "so far up [the drug lord's] nose that he'll be sneezing snow for a week." It'd help if the two dubbed words sounded remotely like the original actor (or if cocaine wasn't supposed to go up one's nose to begin with). The immortal line near the end that "Dick Jones is wanted for murder" became "Dick Jones is an imposter".
    • There's a scene where Robo interrupts an armed robbery in a mom-and-pop store. The robber watches as his bullets bounce off and backs away, exclaiming "Why me? Why me?" which seems to work better, and be funnier, than the original version.
  • The Eddie Murphy remake of The Nutty Professor is a strong example of this, including numerous instances of "face" replacing "ass".
  • There is the infamous Die Hard censorship of John McClane's immortal line "yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker".
    • And Samuel L. Jackson calling him a "racist melon farmer" in Die Hard With a Vengeance.
    • Variations include the popular "yippee-ki-yay, Mr. Falcon," which makes very little sensenote , and "yippee-ki-yay, Kimosabe".
    • Thank goodness in Italian it still came off as "yippee-ki-yay, piece of shit".
    • In the German dub, it has been changed to "yippee-ya-yay, Schweinebacke", which translates to "pig cheek".
  • Ghostbusters: At the end of the Onionhead sequence, Venkman's "We came, we saw, we kicked its ass" inexplicably becomes "What a knockabout of pure fun that was!".
    • Feeling quite proud that in Italian that was if possible made more grating by having Venkman state triumphantly: "We came, we saw, we totally raped its ass!"
    • According to the commentary, that scene and others were ad-libbed several times in a row until they came up with something they liked. The replacements may be alternative takes.
    • And one in all versions that's either an overdub or a Last-Second Word Swap, to avoid a higher rating — "Mother pusbucket!"
      • This is lampshaded in the audio commentary. But I believe it was in the script to begin with.
    • Also, in the scene where Stantz refers to Obstructive Bureaucrat Walter Peck as "Dickless" and Venkman follows it up with "It's true, your honor... this man has no dick", the lines were changed to "that weasel" and "It's true, your honor... this man is some kind of rodent," respectively.
      • Another dub of the same scene turns "Dickless" into "Wally Wick." Unusual to say the least. "It's true," cuts off there without a punchline.
      • In the Italian dub Stantz doesn't call Peck 'dickless' so Venkman's following remark ("this man has no balls") comes off as another instance of his offbeat humour.
    • According to commentary and other sources (IMDB), they actually shot some scenes twice just in case they needed to be toned down for re-rating or whatnot. So they aren't re-dubs, they're alternate takes.
  • The Mask: "Margaret! You son of a bitch!" (during the scene where Kellaway and Doyle search The Mask and find weird objects, one of which is a picture of Kellaway's wife in lingerie with the words "Call me, lover" written at the bottom) becomes "Margaret! You son of a pig!" or "Margaret! You son of a witch!" Other edited versions just cut off after Kellaway shouts, "Margaret!"
    • Even without any Bowdlerization, The Mask is full of Unusual Euphemisms, especially in the park scene with The Mask trying to seduce Tina as a French lover.
      The Mask: "Kiss me, my dear, and I will reveal my croissant. I will spread your pâté. I will dip my ladle in your vichyssoise."
  • Who's The Man? had a TV Edit where Ed Lover calls someone a "Lousy motherLIAR!".
    • And another character utters the immortal, "Motherfunny please, motherfunny please."
  • The DVD releases of Shaun of the Dead and its follow-up Hot Fuzz have among their special features a compilation of clips where they were forced to replace words — the replacements are mostly nonsense, and very much played for laughs, especially when lampshaded by being brought together. They range from simple letter substitution (What the funk?) to the downright bizarre (You stupid barstool). And the outright hilarious (peas and rice!).
    • The related "bar-steward" is a common humorous euphemism for bastard in the UK.
    • On the Hot Fuzz commentary, director Edgar Wright expresses his surprise that Timothy Dalton, even at sixty, can still cause "ladyquakes."
    • Another Hot Fuzz commentary has Edward Woodward talking about using "Baskets!" on a show he used to work on back in the day, and then continuing to use it through the rest of the commentary.
  • Used with great success in the "Edited For TV" short by LoadingReadyRun. It featured the characters' swear words blatantly dubbed over by the narrator.
    Ash: [GOSHDARNIT], I can't believe you guys are still arguing over that [BLOODY] piece of [POO] jacket!
    Morgan: This [MELON FARMER] thinks it's his [FRUITY] jacket! I had it way before [FREAKIN'] he did!
  • Seen in the TV broadcast of The Matrix, where Neo's cry of "Jesus CHRIST, that thing's real?!" is toned down to the rather more comical "Jeepers creepers, that thing's real?!".
    • Alternatively, "Judas Priest, that thing's real?!".
    • Or how about when he offers to give Smith "the flipper"? Cutting out the gesture itself is understandable, but their renaming of it is... confusing.
    • And the security guard's reaction to seeing Neo armed to the teeth becomes "Holy smokes!"
  • A TV broadcast of The Usual Suspects included the immortal line "Hand me the keys, you fairy godmother."
  • The for-all-ages trailer of Being John Malkovich, which can be found on the DVD, has a fairly glaring example of changing a seemingly innocuous word into something that makes the context weird. In the trailer, Maxine says to Craig -
    And fifty other lines to get into a girl's hands.
  • The TV broadcast of Liar Liar cleaned one of Fletcher's rants quite adeptly by avoiding unusual euphemisms:
    Fletcher: what I'm gonna do is [piss becomes whine] and moan like an impotent jerk, and then bend over and [take it up the tailpipe becomes take it like a grown man].
    • Earlier on, twice even, "Son of a BITCH!" becomes "I'm such a SNOT!", which sorta cancels out the well-handled rant.
  • In the censored version of The Faculty, every use of the word fuck is replaced by "fooey." The hilarity of Elijah Wood and Josh Hartnett hopping up and down over aliens with the stream of dialogue "Fooey fooey fooey! What the fooey just happened? Fooey you!" had me in fits.
  • One of the funniest is the censorship of network broadcasts of Scarface (1983), the two best being "This city is like a big pussy waiting to be fucked" changed to "This city is like a big chicken waiting to be plucked", and "Where'd you get that scar? Eating pussy?" to "Where'd you get that scar? Eating pineapple?" Also "I only tell you once. Don't fuck me, Tony. Don't you ever try to fuck me" to "I only tell you once. Don't fool me, Tony. Don't you ever try to fool me."
  • Raging Bull: "Did you shampoo my wife?" as heard on Saturday Night Live's "The Joe Pesci Show." Lampshaded when Joe Pesci (played by Jim Breuer) stated that the original dialogue wasn't suitable for TV broadcast, so they had to use euphemisms.
  • Snakes on a Plane: The censored version makes a complete hash of its most famous line "I've had it with these monkey-fighting snakes on this Monday-to-Friday plane!"
  • Shark Attack 3: Megalodon: What do you say I take you home andnote we watch I Love Lucy?"
  • Scorcese's Casino gets a great many of these. See any line of Joe Pesci's dialogue, and this great one from Sharon Stone: "Oh, freak you! Freak you, Sam Rothstein, Freeeak youuuu!"
  • When Fast Times at Ridgemont High is broadcast, a cashier at a fast-food restaurant is mad at the customer who has become somewhat demanding because the meal is supposed to be "100% guaranteed", so he says, "If you don't shut up I'm going to kick 100% of your ass!" When the film is broadcast, it's changed to "100% of your face," and the customer complains because of his comments. Later his boss asks him "Did you use profanity or threaten this customer?" Since he didn't use profanity, they should have deleted that line from the manager's comments (or at least shorten it to "Did you threaten this customer?" Even if the cashier didn't use profanity, he still threatened the customer by saying he was going to kick him in the face).
  • When aired on ABC Family, Better Off Dead gets an edit that results in making no sense at all. In the scene where French-speaker Monique says "testicles" when she means "tentacles," the offending "testicles" is overdubbed with "tentacles." So it's very strange that she says, "tentacles," and Lane corrects her, "No, you mean 'tentacles.'"
  • The DVD version of Crank has a "Family Friendly Audio" feature that replaces all the spoken swears (even minor ones like "damn") with tame versions. However, the full unedited video is still present, so the movie starts by showing a DVD with the words "FUCK YOU" written on it, in which the villain talks about how he "just freakin' killed you" with "synthetic Chinese stuff".
  • In Kill Bill Vol. 1 the 'Pussy Wagon' was turned into the 'Party Wagon' for the edited-for-TV version with the word "Pussy" digitally altered to read "Party" on the back of the truck (even though the license plate still read "PSY WGN").
    • Which became even funnier in Vol. 2 when Esteban brings up why The Bride isn't driving the 'Party Wagon.' When she explains that the truck broke down, Esteban utters, "The Party died."
  • In a TV edit, one of the best lines from Back to the Future was edited with... very poor enunciation. Poor Doc Brown goes from "excited" to "hyperactive teenage girl".
    Doc Brown: When this baby hits 88 miles an hour, you're gonna see some serious STUFF!!
    • In some TV runs, Biff's line "You cost 300 bucks damage to my car, you son of a bitch" is changed to " son of a butthead."
    • Marty's numerous uses of the word "asshole" are frequently changed to "idiot" - resulting in a full-on Hong Kong Dub effect - for TV runs.
  • In The Ninth Gate, a woman who just slept with Johnny Depp's character tells him "don't fuck with me," to which he responds, "I thought I just did." The TV edit changes "fuck" to "mess" making Johnny Depp's response unintentionally bizarre.
  • When TBS and the Hallmark Channel aired The Breakfast Club, Bender's line "Eat my shorts" (which wouldn't become a popular insult until Bart Simpson made the scene in the late 1980s; The Breakfast Club came out in 1985) was inexplicably changed to "Eat my socks." Any "Fuck you!"s were replaced with "Forget you!" Another network's version had them dubbed with "Thank you!"
  • The network TV airings (and Cartoon Network's airings) of Who Framed Roger Rabbit? contain several instances of this. Most notably, when one of the weasels reaches down Jessica Rabbit's dress and gets his arm caught in a bear trap, Eddie Valiant's line "Nice booby trap" was re-dubbed as "Nice going, Jess".
  • Tv broadcasts of Smokey and the Bandit replace the sherrif's memorable "sumbitch" to "scum bum". That almost fits the lips, too. According to many fans of the films, "scum bum" actually fits the character's persona better.
  • In a TV broadcast of Up in the Air, when Alex tells Ryan, "Just think of me as you, only with a vagina" into "Think of me as you, only with a miffler." Uh... what the hell?
  • One of Sam Jackson's earlier roles with a gun was also for language edited on the BBC. In Coming to America, Mr Jackson is heard to say "Why me, why me!" as he rushed out of an aborted robbery. However, you don't have to be a versed lip reader to tell exactly what he said instead of "why".
  • In a rather amusing TV edit of Adam Sandler's movie Mr. Deeds, every instance of "shit" or "bullshit" was dubbed over with "spit" or "bullspit", resptively. It's rather amusing when a raging football player screams that he wants to renegotiate his "bullspit contract", and Adam Sandler's character immediately tells him to watch his language in the presence of ladies.
    • Unfortunately, one of the most hilarious lines in the movie, where Sandler exclaims "Buh-buh-buh-BULLSHIT!!!", was changed to "Buh-buh-buh-bullspit". It wouldn't have been so bad had the dubbing over not toned down the intensity at which Sandler had said the final word. Originally he was nearly screaming the last word in rage, but in the edit it seemed like he was just using the word dismissively.
  • In Caddyshack the famous final line by Rodney Dangerfield was "Hey everybody, we're all gonna get laid." In television it's changed to, "Hey everybody, let's all take a shower," which doesn't sound like anything Czervik would say (and actually makes the line more sexual than what was originally there). Nice going, censors.
  • The quote on the Quotes page from The Lonely Guy is a subversion, in which Steve Martin's character is writing a romance novel. It's supposed to illustrate how awkward he is at romance in general.
  • In A Christmas Story, when Ralphie's father is fighting with the furnace, or about anything else, he utters a string of gibberish which could sound like curses. Evidently, they listened to those bits over and over, slowed down and speeded up, to make sure there weren't any dirty words sounded out by mistake or otherwise.
  • In 10 Things I Hate About You:
    Kat: Well, now that I've shown you The Plan, I'm gonna go and show The Plan to someone else.
    • When asked later by Patrick how she distracted the teacher, she replies that she dazzled him with her "Wits". There's also the brilliant TV-edited "the squid hath hitteth the fan."
  • Pulp Fiction:
    • In one edited-for-TV version, Jules's line "English, motherfucker! Do you speak it?!" is changed to "English, little sucker! Do you speak it?!"
    • Not to mention:
      Jimmie: Do you wanna know why you didn't see that sign? Because storing dead African-Americans ain't none of my rooty-toot-tootin' business, that's why!
  • Forgetting Sarah Marshall: "asshole" is changed to rascal.
  • Spy Kids: They felt the need to do this to Carmen's infamous "Oh, Shiiiiiiitake mushrooms!" quote for the TV broadcast. They muted out the first syllable, completely ruining the joke by turning the line into "Oh, —take mushrooms!" instead.
  • In a rather amusing TV edit from Dumb and Dumber, instead of "Right on my ass after you kiss it!" we get this horrible/hilarious euphemism instead.


Video Example(s):


Ghostbusters (1984)

"The Keymaster" and "The Gatekeeper". It's strongly implied Dana Barrett and Louis Tully, both under demonic possession, have to have sex to open the portal to Gozer's realm and are both shown disheveled and Louis sporting a broken belt buckle after they reunite atop Dana's apartment building.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / UnusualEuphemism

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Main / UnusualEuphemism