Shut The Front Door! Researchers found a correlation between profanity and honesty. NPR's Weekend Edition asked people what they say when they need to swear, but don't want to use really bad words.
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Shut The Front Door!

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Shut The Front Door!

Shut The Front Door!

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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Do you judge people who swear?


KRISTEN BELL: (As Eleanor) Somebody royally forked up.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: In her latest show, "The Good Place," actress Kristen Bell wants to curse but can't. You see, she's in heaven, and swearing's not allowed.


BELL: (As Eleanor) Why can't I say fork?

WILLIAM JACKSON HARPER: (As Chidi) If you're trying to curse, you can't here.

BELL: (As Eleanor) That's bull-shirt.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: But a recent study suggests, maybe we should think better of bad language. It was published in the journal - and this is a real mouthful - Social Psychological and Personality Science. And it found, I'll quote them here, "a consistent positive relationship between profanity and honesty."

So basically, if you swear, you're likely telling the truth. FYI, I swear a lot - in private, though. We at NPR would face steep fines if we actually cursed on-air. So we asked around for alternative swear words. What do you say in polite company or around kids? When Jordan Weiner of Pennsylvania gets mad...

JORDAN WEINER: Embarrassingly enough, I say slug in the ditch.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Slug in a ditch?

WEINER: Yup. Like the slug, the yucky garden thing - yup.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Weiner says it's a good substitute for son-of-something when he's around his young daughter.

For Nancy Strand of Arizona, her swearing years have come and gone.

NANCY STRAND: I'm too old to like the F-bomb. I don't like that one at all.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Luckily, she's got her dad's old saying.

STRAND: Dirty pup.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: That's dirty pup.


GARCIA-NAVARRO: We got this one from Sarah Ricard in Little Rock.

SARAH RICARD: Flap-doodle.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Flap-doodle.

RICARD: It sounds really silly, but it makes me feel better.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Dave Honnecker of North Carolina has the Coen brothers to thank for his go-to G-rated curse.

DAVE HONNECKER: If I'm really, really mad, I'll be (imitating anger) mother-scratcher. But if it's something that's just a minor annoyance, it's more like - oh, mother-scratcher.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: And whether you've just stubbed your toe or you're giving some mother-scratcher a piece of your mind, Jordan Weiner thinks that study may have some truth to it.

WEINER: It makes complete sense to me. Being someone that's more honest - yeah, you're going to say whatever's on your mind, whether it's clean or not.

GARCIA-NAVARRO: Well, then, fudge this - I'm just going to say it - (expletive).


CEELO GREEN: (Singing) See you driving 'round town with the girl I love, and I'm like forget you. Oh, oh, oh. I guess the change in my pocket wasn't enough. I'm like forget you, and forget her, too.

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