“Sheet”, “freak”, “arse hole” and “beach” – You probably know very well that these words are not what they appear to be. They’re common words used to pertain to something profane. They’re often used to express a strong point or emotion.

Defining profanity

 “Profanity” is defined as “words that are offensive”. Profane words are generally rude and disrespectful. They’re considered unappealing, crass and very informal.

Profanity has been classified into two types: “oaths” and “obscene”. Profane oaths are defined as words and phrases that put the name of a god or deity in vain. It is closely associated with blasphemy in terms of its lack of respect for a higher power. On the other hand, obscene words imply promiscuity. Words that are deemed gender or racially discriminating are also considered part of this classification.

Swear words and communication

Since it is considered as one of the most vivid ways in expressing thoughts and emotions, swearing has become part of our daily communication. In mainstream media for example, the use of the words “f*ck” and “b*tch” are now tolerated to a certain extent especially in primetime adult TV shows. However, these words are still bleeped for shows with general public as audience.

Did you know that an average person says profane words as much as pronoun use? According to Time, a person curses about 0.7% in a day at the same rate that they say the words “we”, “our” and “ourselves”.Using profane words have been found to be common to all people regardless of age (yes, you read that right), gender, race or even social standing. Swearing has become a way for individuals to emphasize the intensity of their emotions.

Profane words are commonly used to stress a point. For example, the sentence “The movie we watched last night was so f*cking awesome” sounds stronger and more intense than “The movie we watched last night was awesome” which can be alternatively interpreted as sarcasm.

In business, using profane terms is rapidly rising as a new technique to grasp the consumers’ attention amid the noise brought about by traditional marketing, digital marketing, and social media. With brands constantly competing to outdo and steal the audience’ attention, profanity is slowly becoming brands’ way to say “Notice me! I’m relatable!” in the sea of “Hey, check me out!”

Profanity and marketing

The marketing world uses the word “f*ck” by some brands to emphasize their message. It is also often used to create a stronger relationship with the customer since it creates makes the brand appear more reliable and relatable.

Profanity provides a sense of authenticity. In the business realm where every brand’s message is often well-prepared and meticulously crafted to show nothing less than perfection, finding messages that contain profanities tend to appear more sincere and direct to the point.

However, it is also worth noting that profanity can be effective provided that it is wisely used and only in moderation. There is a fine line between using profane words to become relatable and excessively using them which could offend some people.

Those are just some of the pros and cons of social swearing. While using profane words are still not generally acceptable by the conservative, the important thing you have to remember is that a smart and classic swearing comes in with a perfect timing and a little sensitivity—even and especially in marketing.