NPR logo In Defense Of The Asterisk

In Defense Of The Asterisk

Boston Red Sox v New York Yankees
Paul Bereswill/Getty Images North America

Over in the UK, the Advertising Standards Authority has ruled that asterisks in the middle of an expletive are not sufficient to cover up the expletive. This means "f**k," in their eyes, is just as bad as writing the whole word.

But you can't know what's behind those asterisks, really. And if you don't know for sure, you can't ban it, right? Maybe the way to save the Asterisking Expletives Technique is to establish an innocent precedent for asterisked words:

  • Grandma, I like the sweater vest you made me, but the a**holes are too small.
  • Spooning usually follows f**king.
  • Hey! That sh**he*d ran away with my sheep!
  • I like big b**ts.

Take that, British advertising standards board I'd never heard of before today!

*(That's armholes, forking, shepherd, and beets, of course.)



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.