7 Phenomenal Benefits of Swearing

Do you ever feel like the English language doesn’t have enough words to express your anger? Are you finding yourself in situations where a simple “sorry” just isn’t enough?

No Swearing, Please!

regret what you said

Why is it so f****ed up to say f***?

Most etiquette manuals consider profanity as the antithesis of polite and proper behavior. Until recently, scientists would have agreed.

The ‘poverty-of-vocabulary’ hypothesis argued that swearing is a sign of limited verbal intelligence. As listeners, the use of rude language even impacts our perception of a speaker’s education level and general knowledge.

The Opposite Might Be True

angry female driver cursing

New research in cognitive linguistics, however, suggests that just the opposite might be true. Cursing could be a sign of a rich vocabulary and highly-developed social skills, as well as a range of unexpected benefits.

“The advantages of swearing are many,” said Dr. Timothy Jay in an interview with CNN. As a psychologist, Jay’s research is dedicated to the relationship between profanity and the brain. 

1. Swearing might be a sign of verbal intelligence

angry shouting man

A 2015 study at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts tested how taboo word fluency compared to overall verbal prowess.

The hypothesis was simple—the larger the vocabulary at your disposal, the more swear words you knew and were likely to use.

Researchers found this to be true: well-educated individuals with broad, diverse vocabularies also had extensive knowledge of profanity.

1. Swearing might be a sign of verbal intelligence

woman chatting on phone

“… Language is correlated with intelligence,” said Jay, who led the study. “People that are good at language are good at generating a swearing vocabulary.”

Findings also distinguished between general expletives and slurs, which are derogatory words intended to cause harm to an individual. With the exception of slurs against women, universally taboo expressions (like ‘f***’ or ‘sh**’) were more commonly used. 

2. Cursing can be associated with social intelligence

angry driver

It is not just about knowing what to say; it is also about knowing when to say it.

People who swear have a greater and more nuanced understanding of social situations in which profane language is acceptable.

“Having the strategies to know where and when it’s appropriate to swear, and when it’s not, is a social cognitive skill—like picking the right clothes for the right occasion,” Jay explained to journalists. “That’s a pretty sophisticated social tool.”

3. Blasphemy engages both sides of the brain

use your brain

Research into swearing and brain chemistry dates back to the 19th century. Doctors were fascinated by patients with brain injuries who developed aphasia (a language disorder that impedes the ability to speak) but were still able to swear.

Although regular speech is generated in the left hemisphere, swearing originates in the right side of the brain—the older, more primitive part that is responsible for intense emotion. 

3. Blasphemy engages both sides of the brain

stressed out woman on laptop

Emma Byrne, the author of Swearing Is Good for You, explained to CNN, “Words with strong emotional content learned early on tend to be preserved in the brain even when all the rest of our language is lost.”

4. A positive relationship between honesty and profanity

old couple talking honestly

In 2017, a series of three studies found surprising results on the link between cursing and honesty.

According to Maastricht University’s Dr. Gilad Feldman, “profanity was associated with less lying and deception at the individual level and with higher integrity at the society level.”

However, researchers only examined the relationship between profanity and superficial, self-embellishing white lies—they warned that the findings cannot predict “serious unethical or immoral behaviors.”

5. Swearing can help during exercise


Whether training for a marathon or trying out cross-fit, do not feel guilty about letting the occasional curse word slip.

Science has discovered a positive connection between swearing and exercise. A 2009 paper found that cyclists on resistance bikes who swore exhibited more power and strength than their counterparts who used “neutral” language.

6. In discomfort? Try a little cursing for relief

man in pain

“[S]wearing helps you cope with pain,” said psychologist Richard Stephens, a researcher at Keele University in England.

His work has found that cussing produces a stress response in the body, which in turn creates a physiological reaction known as an analgesic response.

He explained: “[B]y swearing you’re triggering an emotional response in yourself, which triggers a mild stress response, which carries with it a stress-induced reduction in pain.”

7. Choose fighting words and not fists

woman fights back

Many can relate to this advantage of cursing. According to Jay, profanity can be a non-violent way to quickly release pent-up aggression without the negative repercussions of a physical fight.

“The purpose of swearing is to vent my emotion, and there’s an advantage in that it allows me to cope,” he told journalists. “… It has that advantage of emotional efficiency — it’s very quick and clear.”

No Swearing on MSN

young girl telling quiet

Please note that in spite of these benefits, we must not swear on MSN or in the comments section. Thank you!

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I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.

I love learning new things about the English language and how to teach it better. I'm always trying to improve my knowledge, so I can better meet the needs of others!

I enjoy traveling, nature walks, and soaking up a new culture. Please share the posts if you find them helpful!

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