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The Benefits of Swearing

Symbols for censored swear words in black and white word bubbles

Some people keep their language G-rated and radio-friendly at all times. The rest of us, however, like to cuss a little!

Well guess what, swearers? Science has our backs! Studies show that swearing has a whole bunch of benefits, from the way it makes others perceive you, to the effects it can have on your brain, mood and even your pain tolerance. So even though swearing may have a few drawbacks, there are also a lot of benefits to bad words. 

You might be wondering how this all relates to wearing socks with swear words, since after all, we are a sock store. We actually think that swear word socks have some unique benefits of their own — but first, let’s talk about words. 

If swear words make you cringe, this is probably about when you should stop reading this blog!

Cat looking at a pair of cat socks that say "Fuck Off"

What Is Swearing?

Swearing, cursing, cussing, profanity, expletives, obscenity, bad words, dirty words and foul language — these all describe the use of language that is taboo in society, at least certain parts of society. Some words may be blasphemous, meaning they are offensive to God or other sacred things, like the word “damn.” Some words are deemed too coarse for polite society because they have to do with sex (fuck), body parts (dick, asshole) or bodily functions (shit).

Finally, some words are derogatory to specific groups of people, and for us, these are the words that we have a major problem with people saying and writing. This type of swearing can be harmful, so this blog is not about those words — and they will also never appear on our socks!

Photo collage with open mouth and text graphic with censored swear word on top.

Why Do People Swear?

There are several reasons why somebody might drop an f-bomb or let off a string of expletives. Some of us swear when emotions are running high — anger, joy and surprise are just a few. 

For example, if I see Bigfoot peeking out at me from behind a tree, my immediate reaction might be “Holy shit!” Likewise, if I was at the doctor getting a root canal, a sharp pain in my mouth might make me say something like “son of a bitch!” (Though with all that stuff in my mouth, it might come out sounding more like “unhnumma ish.”)

After those events, I might feel a little sense of relief — and that leads us to the first benefit of swearing.

Cartoon image of a brick falling on a person's head and them cursing

Swearing Can Help Us Tolerate Pain

Researcher Richard Stephens studies the effect of swearing on pain tolerance. In one study titled “Swearing as a response to pain,” he and his colleagues investigated whether repeating a swear word — versus a neutral word — would help people withstand immersing their hands in icy water.

The results showed that the swearers had increased pain tolerance, increased heart rate and even decreased pain perception compared to the non-swearers. 

Does this mean that we should be encouraging people to swear as a way to better cope with pain? I say, “Fuck yes!”

On the flip side, swearing for some might be a way to let off steam symbolically without resorting to physical action when they feel threatened, angry or scared. When compared to starting a fight, swearing seems like a much more healthy option.

A woman flips off the camera with a smile

Are People Who Curse More Honest?

In their article titled “Frankly, We Do Give a Damn: The Relationship Between Profanity and Honesty,” researchers in the journal “Social Psychological and Personality Science” conducted three studies on how people who swear are perceived, and argued that people who swear might be viewed more positively by their peers.

“We found a consistent positive relationship between profanity and honesty,” they wrote. “Profanity was associated with less lying and deception at the individual level and with higher integrity at the society level.”

This might be because when someone swears, it is more likely that they aren’t filtering themselves, and are giving you their honest opinion.

There is also an in-group/out-group mentality at play here. When you are with friends, you probably have some of your own inside jokes and slang terms. Since most of us probably swear more among close friends than casual acquaintances, using a swear word or two with someone could be taken as a sign that you like and trust them, and in this way, swearing might be one way to solidify a bond. 

New Zealand researchers found this to be the case in their study of the language used by workers on the floor of a soap factory. The workers swore most frequently around the people they worked closely with, but used profanity much less when working with people from other teams.

Model points at the camera and wears socks that say, "Sounds LIke Bullshit to Me."

Is Using “Bad” Words a Sign of Intelligence?

People who don’t like profanity often say that it is a sign of stupidity, or at least a weak vocabulary. But is this really the case?

One 2015 study gave participants letters of the alphabet and asked them to list as many words starting with that letter as they could. Then, they were asked to come up with all the animals they could think of starting with the letter, and finally all the swear words they could think of starting with the letter.

It turned out that the people who were able to generate the most words and animal names were also the ones who generated the most swear words, leading researchers to conclude that people with larger vocabularies are also the ones who know the most swear words.

Swearing is also associated with creativity, and the area of the right brain known as the “creative brain.” People who have strokes on this side of the brain will sometimes lose their ability to swear, according to Emma Byrne, author of the book “Swearing Is Good for You,” who was quoted by CNN in 2021.

“We do know patients who have strokes on the right side tend to become less emotional, less able to understand and tell jokes, and they tend to just stop swearing even if they swore quite a lot before,” Byrne said.

I Love Swearing women's socks with flowers worn with red shoes

Is Swearing Funny?

Yes, swearing is often very funny! A well-placed profanity or series of creative swear words can catch us off guard and tickle our funny bones, by playing on the humor associated with breaking a taboo.

Sometimes the humor in swearing is all about surprise. One example is on a pair of our new women’s socks, which has a beautiful floral design and the words “I Fucking Love Swearing.” It is especially funny because it flies in the face of our expectations about what words will be written on such a pretty patterned sock.

Delicate Fucking Flower socks for women

Our Funniest Swear Word Socks

We have found that people who swear are generally more independent and less likely to follow the crowd. That means that swearing is a little bit like wearing crazy socks!

We are pretty comfortable with swearing at our sock store, considering we sell a shit-ton of socks with curse words.

Still, we respect the folks who don’t like profanity so we keep these socks out of our general email newsletters, but if you buy a pair with a swear, you might see a few in your inbox. In our brick-and-mortar location we stock them on the top row, where they are harder for children to read.

But we know many customers come to us specifically for cussing socks, and to let you in on a little secret — they are actually some of our best sellers. 

So what are the benefits of swear-word socks? They let you vent frustrations, show off your personality and express what’s on your mind. They also look and feel fantastic, because we only carry high-quality socks here!

See our top-selling swear-word socks now and get a great pair of unisex, women’s or men’s socks that lets you express your inner sailor without saying a single word — good OR bad.

Andrea Farrell

Andrea Farrell is the lead buyer and content writer for Cute But Crazy Socks. She is a sock industry expert with over a decade of experience in socks retail, customer service, product selection, product development and customer behavior. Andrea leans on her degree in journalism from Western Washington University to write helpful articles on socks and hosiery, covering all topics from current fashion trends to sock jokes.

2 Responses

John Kay

John Kay

September 11, 2023

I disagree. Swearing pollutes the atmosphere of the home, office, sports field, or wherever. One person spews her or his venom on another. The spew-er might feel relieved, but the recipients are left to clean up the vomit.

Kimberly Woefling

Kimberly Woefling

September 11, 2023

Mother forklift! This is an awesome article. I teach a workshop called “Dare to Seesr”, and use an exercise called “Swearing in Ftont of the Kids” even in the corporate world. I love your socks AND your science-based swearing strike. Back the truck up!!! Sone of a biscuit eater!!! Thanks for keeping socks fun!

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