back to article Ofcom swears at the general public for five days during obscenity survey

UK comms regulator Ofcom has taken the unusual step of employing survey company Ipsos MORI to swear 186 times at 368 different members of the public and record what they thought about it. The survey was the latest in a series of four-yearly polls used to discover how the public react to different words and how the …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It's "NOB" !

    Short for "nobility". "Here come the nobs" was used like "here come the toffs'. Implying they are a bit of a dick.

    "knob" - door handle. If your dick is shaped like one, see a doctor

    1. xeroks

      Re: It's "NOB" !

      Ah bless. A Beano reader.

      While homophones, they're different words, with different meanings. A nob is not necessarily a knob, and a knob is not necessarily a nob. Though to be fair, the Venn diagram has an impressive intersection.

      1. J. Cook Silver badge

        Re: It's "NOB" !

        And the center of the venn diagram is shaped like a-

        ::gets picked up bodily and thrown out the door::

        1. Someone Else Silver badge

          Re: It's "NOB" !

          ::gets picked up bodily and thrown out the door::

          I originally read this as, "gets pricked up bodily and thrown out the door". I guess in the context, the misreading was understandable.

          Something about attention and set...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: It's "NOB" !


      What's weird is I've got a door knob shaped exactly like a thingy.

      Oh shut up Baldrick.

      1. David 132 Silver badge

        Re: It's "NOB" !

        I believe it was,

        "She dragged me all the way across London to play about the weakest practical joke since Cardinal Wolseley stood in the corridor at Hampton Court Palace with his knob out and pretended to be a door."


        "Oh, shut up Baldrick. You'd laugh at a Shakespeare comedy."

        From memory. Which makes me very worried.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Re: It's "NOB" !

        Oddly enough, at one house we lived in in England, the knockers[0] were both shaped exactly like a thingy. A short and stubby thingy, but a thingy nonetheless.

        Knockers shaped like a thingy. Only in England.

        [0] Both of them, one in the front, and the tradesman's entrance out back. Oh, errr ...

  2. David 132 Silver badge

    Well, Burma.

    Belgium to the lot of ‘em. Bunch of Semprinis.

    1. TeeCee Gold badge

      Re: Well, Burma.

      Holy Fucking Hell! No banhammer for "B*lgium"?

      I suppose there was a NSFW warning, still, I'm going to need a stiff drink and a lie down after running across that unexpectedly.

      1. Mog_X

        Re: Well, Burma.

        Does that count as a "Non-English word"?

    2. b0llchit Silver badge

      Re: Well, Burma.

      Damn! You beat me to it. Oh well, I'm going for a snack at Milliways.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Swearing and games

    When my kids were young it always really pissed me off that half the f***ing games they wanted were bleeding age rated to stupid levels coz they contained swear words. Going around gratuitously killing people was considered OK. Violence was acceptable to the f***ing people controlling these things.

    All sorts of bad shit was allowed, but swearing No F***ing Way.

    Anyone who thinks that kids don't swear at each other in the playground has forgotten their own childhood.

    My approach was "I don't want to hear it, if I hear the game swearing you'll lose it for a while, if you use that language to your mother the game is history"

    There are a lot more things to worry about than the language kids pick up.

    Back when the BBFC used to rate games you could download the full report from them and see what the restrictions were based on. Half the time the censor would add a comment in the summary along the lines of "it's probably OK for most XX year olds but because the language I have to give it a YY rating" Maybe that's why they stopped the BBFC from doing the ratings.

    1. FlamingDeath Silver badge

      Re: Swearing and games

      Imagine if it had naked penis or exposed vulvar, TPTB would not approve.

      Weird ain’t it, these pricks quite happily send millions to their deaths in stupid wars they instigated and created.

      Fuck the lot of em… cunts

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Swearing and games

      "half the f***ing games they wanted"

      The fucking word is "fucking". We're all adults here, no need for self censorship.


      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Swearing and games

        True, some of us are laughing our fucking asses off.

        As a side note, I have to admit that I only figured out what bell-end means after I was 50...

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Swearing and games

          Bell End a nice little village on the A491 in Worcestershire.

          1. Fred Dibnah

            Re: Swearing and games

            The rather good pub there, The Bell, used to have a purple sign :-)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sticks and stones...

    may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. Swear at me all you like, just don't touch me, don't touch my things, and stay off my property. To this day no one has ever been hurt by hearing a word, unless maybe it was so over-amplified as to cause hearing damage. I believe the H&S/OSHA folks already regulate sound pressure levels and that should suffice.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sticks and stones...

        Oh dear, someone on the Internet doesn't agree with my opinion and used *offensive language* to express that, then wandered pointlessly into politics in a classic "troll two-fer". Cool story bro!

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Thumb Up

      Re: Sticks and stones...

      As one who, in high school, was uncoordinated, had few muscles, and had an intellectual bent, I suffered more than my share of verbal abuse, spaz and faggot being the most popular, I fully agree with you.

      Taking ownership of the slurs, from James Brown declaring "I'm black and I'm proud" to gays chanting "we're here, we're queer, get used to it" has done more for society than the cancel culture.

      * Regarding knob, it is obviously not nob as Nanny Oog's song, "A Wizard's Staff has a Knob on the End", will tell you.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Sticks and stones...

        Everything about Cancel Culture is evil.

        You can't get your message across by attempting to shut people up, and you can't include everybody by excluding folks you don't like.

        I am not claiming to have a fix for all the sins of society (and look with suspicion on anyone who does!), but one thing I'm certain of is that hypocrisy isn't the answer.

    3. LybsterRoy Silver badge

      Re: Sticks and stones...

      I signed in just to give you an upvote. I was also taught that as a youngster and I don't see that (apart from psychological mumber jumbo) I don't see that its cnaged.

      Wonder who the hurt by words creatures are that downvoted you?

    4. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Sticks and stones...

      Depends on the situation.

      Inidividual words don't hurt. Some people find them more offensive or intimidating than others, but that's as much about the aggression behind the words as the words themselves.

      Sustained verbal abuse can cause significant psychological issues. That's the difference. Bullying isn't just physical.

  5. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge


    they'd surveyed where I attend for 8 hrs

    We've raised insulting to an artform, one of the operators left 3 months ago and the first words out of everyone mouth were "You need help packing?" although the manglement were someone nicer with "Take your outstanding holiday now and dont worry about the weeks notice"

    Although the tone changed when he went out of the door with everyone doing a variation on

    "So glad the <redacted> has <redacted> left, he was one <redacted> useless <redacted> who couldnt <redacted> operate a <redacted> tap, anyway you lot <redacted> off back to <redacted> work"

    1. stiine Silver badge

      Re: Wish

      You do know that 'fuck' and its variants are typically shorter and easier to type than '<redacted>', right?

      1. cmdrklarg

        Re: Wish

        Just treat it like a game of Mad Libs!

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The C waord

    Why is even bad?

    We nearly all came from there

    About half of us have them

    & on the balance of experience most of the rest of the population will do almost anything to get access to one.

    So what's the problem?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: The C waord

      We need a show after 9pm where for 1 hour a week, Brian Blessed just repeats a word over and over again until it loses its edge.

      Those of us that deem swearing to be a perfectly valid way to express ourselves can have an hour of entertainment and those that feel shock when hearing said words can desensitise themselves.

      I'll start the desensitising effort now.


      *pauses and clears throat*


      1. Martin Summers

        Re: The C waord

        If its Brian Blessed shouldn't that be


        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: The C waord

          Sounds like a bunch of bollocks to me. It can't work.

          The professionally offended can always find something to bitch about.

      2. Kane Silver badge

        Re: The C waord

        "We need a show after 9pm where for 1 hour a week, Brian Blessed just repeats a word over and over again until it loses its edge."

        I have a little gift for you!


        1. J. Cook Silver badge

          Re: The C waord

          I *thought* that video actually existed. (And it's both NSFW (put on headphones!) and hilarious at the same time.)

  7. cornetman Silver badge

    The problem I feel with this kind of treatment of words (briefly hinted at in the article) is that context is everything.

    Some swear words have shock value almost whenever they are heard and that is generally because there is no current context in which they are not used to cause offence or discomfort.

    But even that most currently offensive of words "n*gger" have contexts where they are perfectly acceptable language (not that I personally agree that we should draw lines across race in terms of the types of words that are acceptable to use, a pattern which is divisive in itself).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Bullshit. that's only an offensive word when caucasians use it. Its used as a proper noun by the offended themselves.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Point the first.

        "that's only an offensive word when caucasians use it."

        George Carlin (RIP) would have argued otherwise.

      2. jake Silver badge

        Point the second.

        "Bullshit. that's only an offensive word when caucasians use it."

        I'm not caucasian, but my skin is white. Is it offensive if I say it?

        What if I'm more of a minority than the offended are?

        What is truly offensive are the fuckwits who presume to be offended on the behalf of others. It's getting to the point where nobody can say anything about anything without somebody pretending to get upset about it in somebody else's name. Frankly, I find it grossly offensive that somebody might presume to be offended in my name. Be offended for yourself, by all means, but keep my good name out of your fantasy.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Point the second.


          "What is truly offensive are the fuckwits who presume to be offended on the behalf of others"

          I wish I could give you a thousand upvotes for that comment. We are getting close to that time of year when customers will send me cards wishing me "seasons greetings" or, please God grant me patience to deal with it, "Happy holidays". I long to send therm a card saying "which fucking holiday would that be?" They are of course talking about Christmas. I am not a fucking snowflake. For crying out loud, we do the full Christmas thing* including the booze.. My teenage brats, sorry, children, would murder me if we didn't.

          A pox on all the fucking virtue signallers.

          /R over

          *Except for Turkey. It's bloody horrible stuff.

      3. cornetman Silver badge

        > Bullshit

        What's offensive about it? It is either the excreta from a bull, an exclamation, or a description of something that is claimed to very extremely incorrect.

        I don't see anything remotely offensive about any of those usages.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Nah nigga, he weren't talking bout no "bullshit" bullshit. He just be callin bullshit on what that other nigga say bout "nigger"

    2. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

      To their credit, they repeatedly stressed the significance of context.

      1. cornetman Silver badge

        Yeah, I got that from the report as well. My comment at the time was based on the article primarily.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There are some...

    ...sensitive souls out there.

    My lad went to a birthday party recently and my lad made up a terrible knock knock joke that he told his mate.

    His mate then went on to tell it to his mum and she was absolutely mortified.

    For the record, I thought it was sheer genius.

    The joke was:

    Knock knock.

    Who's there?


    Garbage who?

    Shit garbage.

    I mean the poetry speaks for itself, but is it offensive? No.

  9. J. Cook Silver badge

    Oh goody, the report is free to download. Time to start adding to my masterwork on the profane and obscene. :D

    1. cornetman Silver badge

      I actually read it. Makes interesting reading actually.

      Quite a considered and balanced report I believe.

  10. Dr. Vagmeister

    All Should Be Translated to Rogers Profanisaurus

    No need for swear words, just translate them to Rogers Profanisaurus

    Bunty or Twinkle ???

    (Half way down the page)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: All Should Be Translated to Rogers Profanisaurus

      Clowning is a personal favourite.

  11. Bibbit

    Swear discrimination

    Why was c**t given asterisks while poor motherfucker was spelled in the clear?

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Swear discrimination

      Because for some reason certain people seem to think that adding asterisks somehow mutes the badness of the word(s) that they self censor, despite the fact that their actual meaning is blatantly obvious to anyone with native intelligence greater than that of a flatworm. It's almost as if they think that the words themselves are somehow more meaningful than the intent behind the words.

      People are weird.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Swear discrimination

        Anytime someone would make a big deal out of my non directed use of cunt in every day speech (im bristolian much like the scottish we use it almost as a term of endearment, and fuck like a comma "yer heez a roit jammy cunt", "awroit me babber yah futtin seen that gert daft cunt jimbo?" etc etc), i would feign absolute shock and horror at some innocuous word they use in everyday speech, "i cant belive you think its ok to say apple in front of a lady"

        futtin pointless being offended by words for body parts and biological functions, the line of offence should clearly be from the intent and context not the word it self

        1. stiine Silver badge

          Re: Swear discrimination

          How do your commas fuck?

          1. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

            Re: Swear discrimination

            With great vigour and potency. How else?

            1. smithsi

              Re: Swear discrimination

              I would have said 69 if it was quotes?

          2. Korev Silver badge

            Re: Swear discrimination

            > How do your commas fuck?

            I've got a bit of a semi colon already...

  12. StewieGriffin

    Scottish Swearing

    To contradict the report calling someone a "clever c**t" in Scotland is not necessarily a term of endearment. Not in my neck of the woods anyway.

    I'm surprised the report didn't mention the more useful word "fuckin'" in the Scottish context. As Frankie Boyle says, "In Scotland, the word fuckin' is just a warning that a noun is on the way".

    Very true. Amongst the blokes anyway.

    1. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

      Re: Scottish Swearing

      Billy Connolly had a good monologue about Scottish swearing being poetry.

      I can't find the whole thing right now, but here's a clip:

      (Sorry for the twatter link)

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Report proves that IT sensibilities are very, very low on the "woke" scale.......

    83 page report. "blackface" is mentioned. "black" (as in blacklist) and "white" (as in whitelist) and "master" and "slave" are not mentioned anywhere.


    Am I missing the "woke" context in the IT business? ...or maybe the "woke" context in the IT business is just a sideshow? Commentards on El Reg will no doubt do what commentards do!

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Report proves that IT sensibilities are very, very low on the "woke" scale.......

      Probably because the report was about swearing in general, not "political correctness".

    2. jake Silver badge

      Re: Report proves that IT sensibilities are very, very low on the "woke" scale.......

      Because those examples are not cuss words would be my guess ... and in fact, pretty much everybody still uses black/white list and master and slave in everyday conversation.

      A friend of mine who owns an indie auto parts store reports that people come in daily asking him for master and slave cylinder parts without batting an eye. He is black, most of his customers are not.

      It would seem that the woke set don't work on their own cars. It probably gets in the way of telling everybody else what they should be offended by.

    3. Jimmy2Cows Silver badge

      Re: Report proves that IT sensibilities are very, very low on the "woke" scale.......

      This report is about terms that are usually intended to be offensive.

      Not about well-understood and very specific engineering terms that some oversensitive prat decides to find offensive on everyone else's behalf, when the rest of the world wishes they'd just shut the fuck up.

  14. IGotOut Silver badge

    Regional differences.

    In some parts of the country words have different strengths.

    Take "twat"

    Some parts of the country its a highly offensive term, yet in others its almost a term of endearment.

    1. J. Cook Silver badge

      Re: Regional differences.

      Yep. It's also different country to country.

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Regional differences.

        Wait! What's that?

        Words hold different meanings from region to region and country to country?

        OMG! What a great revelation!

        One would think the woke set would notice this and stop their laughable charade ...

    2. Fred Dibnah

      Re: Regional differences.

      Also: Smeg.

      To some a smelly discharge, to others a brand of white goods. Plus it's an excellent sweary-type word.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I always thought it stood for Consultant in the Use of New Technology.

    Well, you lives and learns.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      No, it is a tourism campaign:

    2. KittenHuffer Silver badge

      In the US Navy I believe it's the acronym for Civilian Under Naval Training!

  16. TheBadja

    The problem with rating obscenities is that their effect depends very much on context. If my son is playing games on the computer, I'm quite used to hearing "No fucking way" all through the night. I hardly even hear the obscenity. However, if my boss at work replies to my suggestion to a way to improve the workplace "No fucking way." this is grounds for a complaint to HR about their bullying.

  17. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

    Well colour me impressed

    They actually came up with two words I had to look up. Bumberclat and Bloodclaat, both from Jamaica as it turns out.

    It did however cause an amusing flashback, of my Mum. <voice source="Monty Python" type="old lady">There's no need for it!</voice>

    1. Sam Therapy

      Re: Well colour me impressed

      Not forgetting leggerbees' and raasclaat.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Surely all they need to do is call the pope. After all, he must know *every* swearword going so he can tell people off for using them.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      You can't he's too busy shitting in the woods.

  19. Greybearded old scrote Silver badge

    Another one

    I was interested to see that bitch got rated as mild. More and more I hear women talk as if it's almost the worst thing you could call them. I've always seen it as equivalent to dick, or bastard at worst. (Interesting that bastard is almost exclusively used for men, when it's original meaning applied to both.)

    I've had a rethink on what contexts I use it in.

    1. Santa from Exeter

      Re: Another one

      The *meaning* applid to both, but it was only of true importance to Men.

      After all, the Second Son would inherit, if he wasn't a bastard like the First Born Male.

    2. Graham Cobb Silver badge

      Re: Another one

      'Bitch' makes an interesting chapter in Kory Stamper's "Word by Word", although very much from the point of view of whether it should be in THE DICTIONARY and what the dictionary should say about it.

      If you are the sort of harmless drudge who likes words I recommend the book.

    3. Ian Johnston Silver badge

      Re: Another one

      Americans are incredibly sensitive about "bitch", to the extent that (I am assured) dog-owner forums there will kick you out if you use it instead of their preferred "lady dog".

      1. jake Silver badge

        Re: Another one

        Untrue. Female dogs are called bitches in both RealLife and virtual dog forums throughout the United States. People who balk at such well known technical terms are generally ignored until they realize it is in no way derogatory.

        Feel free to attend any AKC dog show for more.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I like this one

  21. Binraider Silver badge

    So how do we describe the gentleman who's just been on the viewer?

    Smeeeeeeeeeeeeeee Heeeeeeeeee!

    Smeg, the best word invented ever. Not offensive yet with uses as noun, adjective and verb, as a replacement for commonly frowned upon words.

  22. Santa from Exeter


    I just read the very first part, General Words and found an anomaly straight away.

    Surely bellend and twat should be in the Body Parts section!

  23. Danny 2 Silver badge

    Wowbagger The Infinitely Prolonged

    To begin with it was fun, he had a ball, living dangerously, taking risks, cleaning up on high-yield long-term investments, and just generally outliving the hell out of everybody.

    In the end, it was Sunday afternoons he couldn't cope with, and that terrible listlessness that starts to set in at about 2:55 when you know you've taken all the baths you can usefully take that day, that however hard you stare at any given paragraph in the newspaper you will never actually read it, or use the revolutionary new pruning technique it describes, and that as you stare at the clock the hands will move relentlessly on to four o'clock, and you will enter the Long Dark Teatime of the Soul.

    So things began to pall for him. The merry smiles he used to wear at other people's funerals began to fade. He began to despise the Universe in general, and everybody in it in particular.

    This was the point at which he conceived his purpose, the thing that would drive him on, and which, as far as he could see, would drive him on forever. It was this:

    He would insult the Universe.

    That is, he would insult everybody in it. Individually, personally, one by one, and (this was the thing he really decided to grit his teeth over) in Alphabetical Order.

    When people protested to him, as they sometimes had done, that the plan was not merely misguided but actually impossible because of the number of people being born and dying all the time, he would merely fix them with a steely look and say, "A man can dream, can't he?"

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