Seven Words You Cant Say On Television

In the United States, there are words that, under most circumstances, are not allowed on broadcast television or radio. Thirty years ago, GeorgeCarlin listed some of them. The envelope has been pushed since then, but many still remain, and TvWatchers everywhere are familiar with the ludicrosity of R-rated movies that have been edited for television.

Carlin argues that words are ideas, and some people are afraid of ideas. Those who support ExtremeProgramming are probably aware of this, which is why some suggest DontCallItExtreme. But I'd say these same people might not be invulnerable to the stinging power of words, because of the XpTabooWords. A meta-quote from that page: "I react to the word 'methodology' like a child who was beaten reacts to someone raising their hand." We might refer to it as TheMword?, as we would TheFword?, TheNword?.

Incidentally, as a programmer, when someone tells you "Go to Hell", which half of the sentence offends you the most? -- NickBensema

Funny, these are the same seven words you cannot say on the Wiki.

Yes. Believe me, I tried...


[Note: Monospace text is verbatim excerpts (from memory) of the comedy routine in question]

 Out of four hundred thousand words in the English language, there are
 seven that you can't say on television.  

Seven Dirty Words that you can't say on television is a classic comedy routine by GeorgeCarlin, which actually is cited (IIRC) in a SupremeCourt? decision on the subject of whether or not the government may regulate use of profanity on broadcast media.

 What a ratio that is!  Three hundred ninety-nine thousand, nine 
 hundred and ninety-three - to seven. They must be really,  
 really bad!  Why, they'd have to be outrageous to be separated 
 from a group that large!

The seven words listed are words which are offensive in any context; words like "cock", "ass", and "dick" and such which have clean meanings are not on the list - and thus can be uttered on the air in the proper context. Carlin expounds on this subject in great detail. The skit is full of AmericanCulturalAssumptions (such as the notion that "ass" spelled as such can mean "buttocks", and that "piss" is indeed offensive in all contexts), but quite funny nonetheless.

 You know what the seven words that you can't say on television 
 are? Shit, piss, cunt, fuck, cocksucker, motherfucker, and tits!

That means Shakespeare must be censored, since horse-piss (and worse) can be found in the bard's plays. I can think of quite a few other words that probably ought to be on the list, as they are also offensive in any context. George mentions a few in a followup routine.

 Those are the seven that will curve your spine, infect your soul, 
 and keep the country from winning the war!

(The routine was written and presented during the VietnamWar - though history seems to be repeating itself...)

The skit is a bit outdated, as "piss" and "tits" are now heard on the air fairly commonly; and "shit" seems to also have lost much of its, er, luster. Saying the other four on the air still is still generally considered a no-no.

 Tits doesn't even belong on the list! It's such a friendly-sounding word!

Was that a quote, because I find 'tits' derogatory and offensive. -- RandomWikiWoman? Yes, it is a quote from the routine.

Wouldn't that depend on the context, since you surely wouldn't find "tit for tat" offensive? Of course you are right. Used appropriately, many words are not offensive. It is generally not the word itself that is offensive, but the manner in which it is used, or the motivations of the user. (Technically a 'word' itself has no meaning, it just represents its meaning)


from http://www.law.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/conlaw/filthywords.html with rot13 of the words unwelcome here ...

Q: What are the infamous seven words and why are they infamous?

A: The infamous seven words are shpx, gvgf, phag, pbpxfhpxre, zbgureshpxre, fuvg, naq cvff.

They are infamous because of a court decision made by the Supreme Court on July 3, 1978 that allows the FCC (the United States Federal Communications Commission) to ban all of these words from any public broadcast on any radio station in the United States. This court case came about as a result of the Berkley, California based radio station KPFA broadcasting the follow comedy show performed by none other that GeorgeCarlin.


Hmm. I know I've heard the F word, the T word, and the S word on broad cast TV. I'm fairly sure that I've also heard the C.S. word. The F word I've only heard on PBS though.


These words can't be spoken on television because they're considered simply too rude to inflict upon millions of anonymous viewers. Of course, this makes them among a scarce few words in the English language which are categorized into a level of politeness. In contrast, the JapaneseLanguage has entirely different prescribed vocabularies and grammatical forms for humble, honorific, polite, colloquial, and vulgar speech. Perhaps this would be a good place to also bring up LevelsOfPoliteness in English. -- NickBensema

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