back to article Swearing doesn’t help pain if you do it too much

Potty-mouths the world over were celebrating a couple of years ago, when a bunch of boffins demonstrated that swearing relieved pain. Now, the same boffins have turned party-poopers with a new paper. It appears, on further research, that yelling "s**t!" when your hammer lands on a thumb instead of a nail works best for shy and …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Another study from the school of the bleedin' obvious ...

    Morphine doesn't help with pain if you do it too much, either.

    Everything in moderation.

  2. The Askylist
    Thumb Up

    I'm probably proof of this - I swear like a trooper in normal conversation, but my response to a hammer on the thumb is complete silence. Small pains are met with a Tourettes torrent - larger pains require a moment of quiet meditation to absorb.

    1. Sir Runcible Spoon


      I often find that the expletive *sugar* works fairly well.

    2. Andrew Moore

      Reminds me of an old joke...

      Young Jesus was playing in his house, Joseph is on the roof doing some repairs. Suddenly Jesus runs out and shouts up to Joseph 'did you call me, dad?'. 'No' replied Joseph, 'I just hit my thumb with the hammer. Again.'

  3. Ralthor

    I have my doubts....

    ... as to the pain relief of any expletive. Now if they were to say that the shock of the pain momentarily overpowered the pain receptors then that I might have more faith in. Ofc I havent read the research so perhaps they did say that and el-reg just grabbed the headlines. Not going to read the research eaither, not when there are so many juicy bits to read here.

  4. SkippyBing

    So errr..

    Can I just use 'worse' swear words then? I mean it'll be a stretch but I'm sure I can come up with something... cum gurgling hairy oyster ticklers...

  5. jubtastic1


    Just even it out by applying a matching injury to your other thumb, it's a well established fact that symmetrical pain signals cancel each other out.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up


      Keep hitting the same thumb until you become habituated to the pain.

    2. Magnus_Pym
      Thumb Up

      Yes but only if the second pain were half a wavelength out of sync.

      I would suggest something along the lines of noise cancelling headphones would be required. Suggestions of how and where these would be worn are welcomed.

  6. Sam Therapy

    Swearing is great

    I only ever do it deliberately, though. I'm more likely to say "Oh dear" if I clout meself with a hammer.

  7. Dave 126 Silver badge

    Stephen Fry's already broken this story

    'bout a month back, in his series about language. To illustrate the above research he recruited Brian Blessed, who has restored my faith in the beauty and artistry of swearing.

    1. Nick L
      Thumb Up


      For once Mr Fry was awesomely entertaining and awesomely educational - whilst being right, too. Unfortunately, thanks to the programme, every time someone mentions Brian Blessed, the image of him shouting Gordon's Alive has been replaced with him shouting... inappropriate words.

      I am smiling as a write this. It is impossible not to smile at a mental image of the Blessed Swearing.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This effect was demonstrated on the BBC series Fry's Planet Word, with the aid of Brian "Swear-a-lot" Blessed, so I'm surprised it's only just appeared in academic literature.

    1. Steve Evans

      My thoughts exactly... It was a funny clip though, watching Brian Blessed restricted to non-swear words. IIRC didn't he pick "table" as his word, or was that Fry?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re :Late

      I thought that whatever came out of any orifice of Stephen Fry's was considered academic literature.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I guess I haven't used it too much then

    Everytime I swear the pain is reduced... and the anger increased.

  10. Medium Dave

    Does punching a mime in the face still work?

    Just curious...

    1. Armando 123


      1. darkmage0707077

        You're not saying anything? THEN YOU MUSY BE A MIME!! *PUNCH*

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    You just have to be a little more inventive...

    When the standard ones won't do it any more.

    You can string them together - sh*tf*ckcockarse!

    Add some animals in there - pig-frakking cock-weasel!

    For extra juice, add in some family members, perhaps turn some expletives into their attributive or mangled adjectival forms...

    If all else fails, I find a father-jack style incoherent yell works for me.

  12. Herby

    I remember being told in a place far away...

    ...To remember that the word F*** is NOT a comma just before returning to civilization.

    Of course, just about any word will work in its place.


  13. Thecowking
    Thumb Up

    Language is everything

    I've been swearing in German for when I stub my toe and the like for fifteen years now, normally I just swear in English.

    I'm pretty sure it doesn't matter what the meaning of the word is as much as the sound of it. Which is why "Oh fornication!" isn't a phrase you'll hear every day. By adopting this bi-lingual strategy you can have your kuchen and eat it.

    I am technically a scientist, so I'm calling this one science!

  14. Lloyd


    F*****g c***s

  15. Andus McCoatover

    Oh, this article's a load of bolloc*ks!

    I'm as likely to say #"Perkele!" as # "Bottoms!

    Fuc*k, however, like tie title, requires the asterisk, in true 'Rockall Times' mode (which has gone the way of NOTW - but for different reasons)

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    what a load of f king sh te!

  17. MJI Silver badge


    Managed to get to sleep after an abdominal operation, sleeping well, they wake me up in middle of night to measure things - talk about agony.

    Only after Morphine could I bear it.

    Why couldn't they let me sleep longer?

  18. illiad

    Just for english speakers...

    many italian swear words when literally translated, are very boring....

    the main point is to direct the 'energy' of the pain elsewhere... thats why preg women delivering are told to breathe heavily or inflict the pain to the poor husband holding their hand!!!! :o

    hit your hand with a hammer? at least you know its coming... :P

    thats nothing compared to a sudden crippling cramp in the middle of the night...

    and most complex swears need thought - how many short, single syllable, mutter-able, very common swear words do you know?? try it!!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Cramp in the night.

      I get this in my calf sometimes. I have no idea why I think this should help, but I usually resort to being doubled over punching fuck out of it.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh, this doesn't bode well.

    To the outside observer, my job would seem to consist of me bashing a few keys and mumbling the word 'twat' every 30 seconds.


  20. Willington


    I guess it's a bad fucking day to give up heroin then.

  21. Richard Scratcher

    See icon.

    See title.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This must be why I swear every time I see David Cameron.

    It's to take away the pain he is inflicting on the rest of the country for the benefit of his friends.

  23. Wombling_Free
    Thumb Up

    Which is why I say 'fiddlesticks'!

    Work it out.

  24. Andy The Hat Silver badge

    Theory says ...

    Normal use of lots of profanity reduces the pain killer results ... so, throretically, someone who doesn't swear and hits their thumb should just go for it.

    On the other hand (sorry) a potty mouth should try to say something particularly articulate ... like "Oh goodness gracious me. My thumb appears to be leaking a crimson tide of predominantly haemoglobin based pigment but titter ye not! Do I feel pain? Nay nay Mr Wilks, 'tis but a scratch, I've had worse ... like when I was bitten by an African swallow carrying a coconut ..."

    Brian Blessed is the exception to the rule as he's a very articulate potty mouth!

    When I said articulate I didn't say I was ... :-)

  25. Brian 59

    Already said

    This was on the Stephen Fry program weeks ago, Frys planet word.

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