NPR logo

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/15369156/15370147" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
F@%#!

F@%#!

Listen to this 'Talk of the Nation' topic

  • Download
  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/15369156/15370147" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">

Cursing is an art, especially around little kids, grandparents, and your new in-laws. These are the occasions when alternative, listener-friendly expletives, such as "frick" and "frack," come in handy. They get the job done without offending. But can they really adequately convey the moment's frustration? Somehow "effin" just isn't as satisfying as the real deal. But such is social convention. Tell us your favorite kid-friendly (read: publishable) curse word, and check out an excerpt from Steven Pinker's new book about why we swear and what it says about us.