back to article 'Bloody' is an offensive word, declares ASA

The Sun newspaper has been ordered not to use the word 'bloody' on posters in future. The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) said it was socially irresponsible to use the word in an advert that appeared in a public place. The advert appeared on the side of a lorry. It stated "Where the bloody hell were you?" against a …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    I'm a poster, so don't use it on me

    "The ad was found to be in breach of rules on social responsibility and the protection of children. The ASA told The Sun not to use the word "bloody" on posters in future."

    That's right; think of the bloody children.

  2. Alex C

    Technically it's blasphemy

    Bloody is a bastardisation of "By My Lady!" an expression of surprise of yesteryear. (In the same way that Blind Me! turned into Blimey!) The Victorians got prudish about the vague blasphemy of the whole thing and By My Lady became Bloody. Hell was tacked on later ( I imagine in the 20's) and stuck because it rolls of the tongue so well.

    If we're going to get prudish about bloody - could we revert, please? Somehow it doesn't seem so bad these days.



  3. Anthony Mark


    Why is it a swear word?

  4. Jean

    Words of Praise

    Given that "Bloody" is a shortening of "By our Lady" and nothing particularly sanguinary, I wonder if I can extend this ruling to "Jesus Christ", and thus anytime I see "Jesus Christ" written anywhere, complain loudly about the damage to my delicate sensibilities.

  5. Francis Boyle

    Bloody offensive!

    Too bloody right, mate.

    Since you bloody Poms outnumber us Aussies three to bloody one you've got nothing to bloody well crow about. </ocker mode>

  6. Anonymous Coward

    Bad word

    My wife hates it when I use that word, and we're Canadian.

  7. Tim Schomer

    All it takes..

    Is one selfish individual and we lose a source of amusement. I'm surprised that they didn't object on religious grounds as it mentioned the word Hell.

    / the one with the BBQ lighter fluid in the pocket please...

  8. Andus McCoatover


    I just don't get it. Seems the most offensive word in English is "Ban" or its derivatives. Ban waste collections, ban supermarket plastic bags, etc...

    For Fuc*ks sake, even the word FUCK is possibly an acronym - "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" - but Wikipedia offers more possibilities.

    OK, in (partial) acceptance, when at primary school some 45 years ago, our heamaster taught us that "bloody" referred to the blood of the Virgin Mary - maybe hence the drink - but I never saw, or can see the connection. And, as she was stuffed by Gabriel, why the 'Virgin* bit?? She had kids afterwards, so ditto.

    FUC*K 'em!!! PC correct wank*ers. Oh, that'll be the IT connection... (the PC bit, I mean) ;-)

  9. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

    Blooming hades

    If Winnie the Excrement can say "Bother!", I should be able to order a Pygmalion Mary without a fuss.

  10. Andy ORourke

    I wish the ASA

    would listen to the many, many complaints that ISP's and telco's continue to sell Unlimited * packages.

    * unlimited, subject to our fair usage policy. i.e. our FUCKING limit!

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Haven't the Ozzie tour board already been told off by the ASA for use of said same word in said same sentance in an advert that I'm sure this was a hillarious parody of by the Sun.

    (nb: Many Christians consider 'bloody' to be offensive because it refers to the Blood of Christ.)

  12. Steve
    IT Angle

    So does this mean...

    ..the Tower of London will need to do some re-branding?

  13. Anonymous Coward

    This is seriously screwed up

    ASA - Are you the FCC in disguise?

    ASA Person 1 : We received 1 complaint about the word "bloody"

    ASA Person 2 : We know that 1 complaint = 100 billion people.

    And there was me thinking 1 person couldn't make a difference...

  14. jai

    this country is going to the bloody dogs!

    the use of bloody in that context is surely just a coloquial thing. it's a very english turn of phrase

    such as "only s'posed to blow the bloody doors off!"

    and honestly, what kid these days would think bloody is a swear word anyway?

    it'd probably seem very quaint and old-fashioned

    like someone saying "where the gosh-darned heck were you?"

    we're going to end up having to speak like Ned Flanders or face being slapped with an ASBO

  15. Nic Brough
    Thumb Down


    I fell off the podium and hurt myself and I have a bloody knee.

    The ASA do have a use, but sometimes, they're idiots. Rather than have a swipe at mild swearwords, I'd prefer them to have a go at real lies in adverts, such as my train company touting it's new timetable as "improvements" when it's cutting services by 50%

  16. Anonymous Coward

    What ever next....

    Bloody strewth mate, them pommies have been told not to use bloody on ads, I hope it don't catch on here...

  17. Anonymous Coward

    Bloody 'ell

    those bloody twatdangles at the bloody ASA are a bit bloody full of themselves.

    Bloody oath.

    (Fuck) - teehee!

  18. Liam


    fucking PC brigade in full force again!

    what about the amount of times chris moyles says arse, fart and bloody then?

    these surely only offend religious/right wing types... fuck em anyway they are freaks!

  19. StooMonster
    IT Angle


    Perhaps El Reg readers can help me out. Why is the word 'bloody' in any way offensive?

    I guess it's to do with god-botherers, is it either menstruation or the Eucharist?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bloody Stupid

    ... ASA ;) Holes

  21. Tim

    How thick are the sun?

    The Aussie tourist board were already reprimanded for the EXACT same wording on one of their adverts last year, but i dont suppose they employ rocket scientists at the sun.

  22. yeah, right.

    WTF? (warning: words in the dictionary are used)

    Bloody hell! What a fucking plonker! The complaining cunts should taken out back and have their goddamn pricks sliced off for being such utter twats!

    Oh, sorry, am I allowed to say "prick" here?

  23. Paul R

    What if...

    they want to describe something that is covered in blood?

    Bloody idiots!

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about other words?

    How about doing something about using the term 'unlimited' when the service on offer is clearly not without limit? That sort of outright lie really is offensive (don't expect the prudes at the ASA to bother with this one though)

  25. paulm


    Quite frankly, I was disgusted at the linked page on the ASAs website. The word "bl**dy" was visible on at least 5 occasions! How dare they offend my eyes!

    Bloody inconsiderate tossers.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The bloody SUN

    Isen´t the SUN one of the "news"papers always going on about THINK OF THE CHIELDREN!!!! ?

    soo... *pointing at the SUN* HAH

  27. RichardB

    OOohh can't say bloody...

    ... but if you want graphic images of a child being abused or killed that's fine.

  28. Alex


    Oh shut up!

    I object to their use of censorship. Can they be banned please?


  29. Toastan Buttar

    "That was bloody brilliant !"

    Said by Ron Weasley to Prof. McGonagle in the first Harry Potter movie (Not in the book, interestingly enough).

    Ooh, ooh, then he told Harry to "piss off" in The Goblet Of Fire movie (again, not in the book).

    Mine's the invisibility jacket.

  30. Duncan Hothersall

    By Our Lady

    Never mind offensive, it's blasphemous! Where's Mary Whitehouse when you need her? Oh yeah, she's dead innit.

  31. Martin Bjelk

    Harry Potter

    I thought Ron Weasly said "Bloody hell" all the time in those books..?

    Doesn't that mean that UK kids have seen/heard that word many times?

  32. Sam


    Stupid fucker.

  33. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    Bloody hell!

    Is, IMHO an expression of mild surprise. But then, there are really no 'bad' words, it all depends on context. How can a word be deemed to be offensive,when it is the meaning conveyed by the word that has the potential to cause offence, and not the word itself? For instance, I find the use of any word to advertise the Sun 'newspaper' grossly offensive...

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How bizarre ...

    Why is the word "bloody" deemed offensive? Why is the word "killer", as in "killer app", not deemed offensive?

    I can understand how the reference to "hell" might be offensive to religious types, but that's not the bit the ASA was objecting to, apparently ...

  35. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    *rolls eyes*

    The ASA are really showing their stupidity this week aren't they - had someone threatened to strip them of the little power they have?

    How can one person's complaint ban the use of such a mild word (and, given the context, it was clearly meant as a humorous take on the Aussies' prolific use of the word). Did her child even see it? Poor child, so wrapped up in cotton wool one day they're going to get a real shock when they realise the world isn't made of candy sticks and lollipops.

  36. Simon
    IT Angle

    What the fuck?

    Oh fucking hell, all the comments on here are going to be bloody hilarious.

    Cocks and twat.

  37. Anonymous Coward

    to hell with the children

    seems like we do live in fucking christian Iran after all.

    frankly this country is a mess, tories and labour are the same party, with the same megalomaniac ideas and aims, lib dems are a bunch of enviro loonies and media darlings.

    Kids hear worse EVERYDAY, I hear parents yelling "reebok/chardonnay/shannon, get your fucking arse over here before I batter pure fuck out of you!" (and yes some muppet did call their kid reebok :-| )

    Ive even heard young pre school kids yelling fuck you and other obscenities to adults, so I think the use of Bloody in a satirical context is a NON ISSUE, then again keep the population focused on one hand while you fuck them with the otheer

  38. Craig Roberts


    Fuck the ASA?

  39. Nick


    So you can't use bloody now. How about bleeding, as in 'that red stuff is from my bleeding leg'. However, that falls down if you've stopped bleeding and are now simply bloody. Hmm, how should I address this issue should it arise without risking being banned from the NHS for using offensive language?

  40. NB
    IT Angle


    I'm bloody well offended by the ASA's politically correct dong-cockery. May their genitals welt with a thousand blisters.

    IT angle? Well I suppose a computer was involved somewhere in the design of the offending ad...

  41. j
    Thumb Down


    child safety - every prudes stick to beat the rest of us over the head with. The concept of "childhood" wasn't even invented until Victorian times - how appropriate the it's being used to invoke victorian morality

  42. Brian Mankin

    Gods Blood!

    'Bloody' is an oblique reference to the crucifiction of Christ. When men of old wanted to swear, they would avoid direct God and reference something related instead. 'Bloody' refers to the wine that our lord and saviour shared with his disciples at the last supper and would have been very offensive. In 1408.

    The publishers of The Sun should thank their lucky stars they didn't publish anything truly offensive. 'Gadzooks', for instance is a reference to the nails that were used to crucify our blessed master ('Gods Hooks').

  43. Martin

    I find The Sun's existence to be socially irresponsible and offensive

    Ban please?

  44. neb


    why don't you just go live there if you love it so much

    fucking ASA arseholes

    that is all

  45. bertie bassett

    One Complaint

    what the fcuk is the country coming too...

  46. dervheid

    I now have a bloody...

    forehead from beating my bloody head of the bloody desk and the bloody wall in frustration at the exponential bloody rise in over zealous bloody censorship from all bloody quarters.

    Enough with the bloody nagging, nanny bloody state mentality.

    I'm bloody furious.

  47. David Webb
    IT Angle

    Bloody nora

    I remember as a kid being told not to say bloody, but we had a cure rhyme to deal with it!

    Bloodys in the bible, bloodys in the book, if you don't believe me, have a bloody look.

    Obviously this was before kids went around carrying AK47's and machetes and stuff. Wheres the IT angle though? Unless you suggest we start to read the Sun for unbaised technological opinion?

  48. Max_Normal

    Can they use "By our lady"?

    Which is the extremely offensive phrase that the word is derived from.

  49. An ominous cow herd

    No more "My Bl**dy Valentine" billboards then...

    Bl**dy ASA...

  50. John Angelico

    Down Under Cringe Factor Infinite

    Speaking from the Antipodes, I am very glad that I did not have to see those Tourist Board adverts.

    Lara Bingle might be a highly desirable example of feminine pulchritude, but that simply doesn't fit with the crass expression.

    I can only hope that your sensible ASA will now go after the silly Australian Tourist Board as well.

  51. Frank Bough
    IT Angle


    To whom?

  52. Gerry
    Thumb Down

    Bloody Stupid!

    Yet another example of PC gone mad.

  53. Graham Marsden

    The ASA...

    ... had already tried to ban the Aussies "So where the bloody hell are you" tourism advert but eventually decided it was ok in a post 9pm slot.

    Personally I think most kids response to this would be "Fuck that..."!

  54. W

    Shit a brick.

    It's a fucking insanity when the "think of the children" line is rolled out by some cunts in relation to the cocky use of bloody by some twats who,amongst other editorial wank, print tits on page 3 every day "in a family paper".

    More seriously, what about the parodied original Australian tourism ad that used 'bloody'? (Only shown after 9pm, presumbaly.)

  55. blue

    Bloody Idiots

    >[...] but nevertheless considered that the word 'bloody' was a swear word, albeit a milder one than some others [...]

    bloody - blud'i, adj or adv : as an intensifier, sometimes expressing anger, but often almost meaningless.

    Not obscene. Not vulgar. Not a swear word. The ASA are autocrats.

  56. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    The OED says that "bloody" is not derived from "God's Blood" or the like, though an incorrect belief that it is might be the reason for people thinking that it is offensive.

    "Fuck" is not an acronym. The word is more than 500 years old and has cognates in Dutch and other Germanic languages.

  57. Anonymous Coward


    "Bloody" does not refers to the blood of Christ. The exact etymology is uncertain, but it most likely refers to the "bloods" (young aristocratic rowdies). Thus to be "bloody drunk" was synonymous with "being drunk as a blood" or "drunk as a lord". It wasn't even seen as offensive until 1750, having been in use from about 1675-ish.

    Any Christians offended by it's use, thinking it to be a slight against them (rather than their just being prudish) need to go get a grip as it has nothing whatsoever to do with Christianity or other fables.

    It also most likely has nothing to do with "by my/our lady" either.

  58. Adam
    Paris Hilton

    Heard much worse on The Simpsons

    The Simpsons is way more sweary AND it's targeted at children.

    Watching The Simpsons at 6pm one day on C4, I witnessed an Irish character call someone a "w***er". I've also heard bu**er and a**e on the Simpsons on multiple occasions.

    I don't give a toss, personally... Big hairy willies.

  59. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @AC 1538

    I stand corrected, a quick trip to my trusty OED suggests that you also had a quick trip to your OED.

  60. Dave Bell

    What Shaw's?

    One presumes that "Not Pygmalion Likely" is too long a headline to appear on the front page of a tabloid-format newspaper.

  61. Neil Stansbury

    Can you get a cream for that?

    NuLabour's Nanny State appears to be a highly infectious contagion.

    Perhaps we the people should adopt enforced sterilization of all bureaucrats & politicians...

    ..or at the very least hold them for 42 days without charge fishing for evidence of them visiting "sexual encounter" venues with "stimulation intent", and possessing pornographic material depicting a "realistically harmful act". On the positive side we will discount their punishment by 2.5%


    ["but i dont suppose they employ rocket scientists at the sun."]

    I doubt it - journalists mostly I'd imagine.

  62. Thomas Baker
    Thumb Down

    Strange how one puritans complains...

    ...and something is immediately done about it but when 1,000,000+ people march through London they're roundly ignored. There's something up with that. I've often wondered what the criteria for a complaint being upheld are. You could easily syndicate and get say a hundred people to phone/write complaining about something, anything, a picture of a milk bottle for example and ASA or any other 'ombudsman' would dismiss it as spurious. But one person complains about something like this and all of a sudden they leap into action. Why? Is it just that the complainant's views exactly coincide with the censors? It seems so. There are many things way more offensive in our world, many of which are complained about regularly but nothing ever gets done. I find murder offensive, genocide, political lobbying, ah hell, politics in general, corporate gouging. Constantly mis-leading advertising - Experian's *Free* Credit Check adverts, with no mention of limited 30-day trial 'til you're well into the process. As mentioned by another poster, the *unlimited* claims. What about "Pay your taxes all your life and you'll get a police force/NHS/benefits service." Um...if ever there was false advertising that'd be it right there, and I find that extremely offensive.

    But one woman gets a bee in her bonnet about the word *bloody* and they put their great nail boots on, walk to the foot of their stairs, and kick our cunts off for half an hour.


    People called the government they go the house.

  63. Moonwolf

    So ...

    When will they outlaw frak?

    Mine's the one with the toaster in the pocket

  64. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    great jebus

    Bleedin' wankers. Hopefully the US will send the rest of its oppressed right-wing wackos to GB to fill the remaining gubmint offices.

  65. RW

    pp. 66–68 in "Mrs Grundy, Studies in English Prudery"

    by Peter Fryer. Publ. Dennis Dobson, London, 1963. An entire chapter devoted to "The 'Bloody' Taboo." Yes, it's a short chapter, but so what? With copious (one might say bloody copious) notes.

    Sometimes I wonder how I ended up with a personal library that plays such excellent counterpoint to some of the more arcane El Reg commentaries.

  66. Anonymous Coward

    @Nic Brough

    "The ASA do have a use" - No they don't - they're as big a waste of space and time as Ofcom. Someone should put them both out of their misery.

    Also, ASA has no jurisdiction in cinemas so banned tv adverts can be shown there regardless. More joined up thinking by up the idiots who rule over us.

    Take the tax disc & tv license adverts - highly intimidating. If a company ran a similar styled campaign, the ASA would take them down for attempted extortion. Hypocrites.

  67. Steve Roper

    @ Thomas Baker

    Actually, the question of acting on complaints is simple:

    Q. Will acting on the complaint enable us to erode more civil liberties, reduce freedom of speech, or increase our control of the public?

    A. If yes, act on it immediately - even if only one person complains. If no, do nothing - even if the entire country complains.

    Roll on, the New World Order.

  68. Michael Xion

    Not Bloody likely

    Actually, most of us in Oz use fuckin' instead of bloody - fuck me sideways, the fucking server's fucked, FFS.

    We reserve the great Australian adjective (as it was previously known) for pommy advertising campaigns so that we don't offend their sensibilities - oh well that worked :-)

  69. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Get a grip guys. Are you asserting that there is more censorship now than, for example, there was in the sixties when "Lady Chattersly's (SP?) Lover" was banned? You peas are getting above your sticks again. One ineffectual wagging finger at a "Bloody" on the side of a bus isn't going to stop someone else doing it again, or something similar, in a little while. The ASA is cheaper than hiring the best ad agencies and pretty bloody effective. Don't get so worked up about it. Its bad for your health. Oh, and no more talk of banning the Sun "Newspaper"; The only better way of recognising idiots I can think of is to make them all wear pointy hats with a D on the front. The Sun is a useful tool.

  70. Grant

    Bugger me

    Similar fuss here in NZ a few years back when Toyota featured an advert using the word 'bugger'.

    At least one person complained, but unlike this case, common sense prevailed and they were told to go away. Simple rule is that it has to cause offence to the 'average' person; not just the odd prissy idiot.

    The 'bugger' advert can be found on this page among others:

    yes, I am a penguin from the deep south.

  71. Cortland Richmond

    404: Expletive not found

    Who IS this B. Luddy?

  72. Anonymous Coward


    No one in the UK Govt corporation knows what common sense is. With their total inability to listen, I'd be surprised if they'd even heard of it. Same goes for the Tories & Lib Dems.

  73. Chris Lovell
    Paris Hilton

    Surely it's descriptive?

    Like penis?

    Paris... Yeah. Not too obvious.

  74. Chris Lovell

    A good time to...

    ...use ASA's complaints procedure!

    "I would like to express my anger and disbelief at ASA's continuing attitude to prudish complaints about advertisments featuring use of the word 'bloody'.

    How is it that ASA justifies upholding baseless complaints such as the Sun's recent olympics advertisment, or Telewest's use of the word? It appears that the sole justification is that it could potentially be seen by children.

    Yet the word 'bloody' is used in a myriad of children's entertainment. Even in the Harry Potter films, which are predominantly aimed at and watched by children, feature the use of terms such as 'bloody hell' on a frequent basis.

    It is also a grave concern that the word may be considered non-offensive if used in a different context. The term 'bloody hand' could have multiple connotations, yet ASA feel they have the authority to decide which is 'accceptable' for the general public. This is censorship.

    I would urge the ASA to seriously consider what it is doing and its own credibility if it persists in taking such wildly inappropriate actions of suppression. Complaints are often made about many things in life, but these are predominantly made by a very small minority - listening to this minority can only mean that the majority are inconvenienced."

  75. Anonymous Coward


    What is so offensive about Bloody??

    Bloody I suppose is kind of offensive depending on the context it is used, but I certainly wouldn't consider it a swear word at all, even if it is used in sentences like Bloody hell.

    Does this ban also ban the word from being used to describe something that is bleeding? Is it offensive to say something like the murderer washed his bloody hands?

    I still remember my friend getting upset about me saying bloody hell in front of her daughter once, but I'd never considered it to be really offensive until then. I wonder how long it will be before someone else picks up on other offensive phrases - for example when we're tired we say "I'm knackered" (I've been told off for that one as well!) we'll all have to start saying we're shattered instead LOL!

    Also why hasn't the ASA stepped in over the offensive seat belt adverts at the moment. These adverts about hearts being broken and the main arteries being ripped from your heart are probably way more scary and offensive to kids than some newspaper saying bloody. "You hear about hearts being broken, but hearts don't really break, do they? but if you crash at 30mph with no seat belt on you will have your heart broken, the force will rip the main arteries from your heart" and it's read by someone as if she's reading a bedtime story! - lovely for some kid to hear when in the car!

  76. Anonymous Coward


    couldn't agree more - particularly because that particular ad is bound to cause every thinking kid to wonder why your ribcage slamming into an airbag will rupture your heart, but slamming into a seat belt won't... (answers on a postcard. please)

    Paris, because she doesn't have one

  77. mittfh


    They could try the Red Dwarf approach to censorship...

    If you can't use an existing expletive - invent your own!

    I can confidently say the ASA are a bunch of smegheads :)

    Similarly, LINUX/UNIX circles frequently use File System ChecK (fsck) out of context, and the French Connection's UK branch (fcuk) got away with using their acronym on merchandise...

  78. Greg Robinson
    Thumb Up

    Bloody good on the ASA!

    I absolutely applaud the ASA for the action they've taken on the "bloody" issue for a number of reasons.

    1. I have never understood why the stupid word is offensive regardless of its origins, real or imagined, and having it banned by the ASA finally made me go and look it up in the OED. Therefore the ASA's action made me overcome my deep seated laziness and learn something new today.

    2. The fact that the ASA banned the word ensures its continued use, especially by children, and entrenches it yet further into the lexicon of spoken English the world over. There is no better way of cementing the affections of a famously truculent people for a thing than banning that thing.

    3. The ASA's action has provided a thoroughly enjoyable evening for me while I read and write these comments about such a patently silly thing.

  79. Simon Harvey

    Bloody Oath!

    hahahaha ... how stuck up are they.

    Trying to resist making obvious jokes about the state of English Rugby after being destroyed by both the Wallabies and the Kangaroos ... in retaliation for the gold medal count ...*

    Simon (an ex-Pom himself), Australia

    * Goodonya to the Welsh though.

  80. Simon Harvey

    PS: to Bloody Oath

    A typical Australian TV advert:

    Also, wtf are the pommy government moaning about. Wasn't it Tony Blair who, when he landed in Canberra to meet our government, said in a jetlagged and weary voice: "Where the bloody hell am I?" (Which, to be fair, is what most of us say when we go to Canberra - think Milton Keynes full of Pollies and you've got our capital city).

  81. Simon Harvey
    Thumb Up

    OK ... final PS ...

    Some analysis on the use of the word "bloody" in TV adverts ...

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