How to be Sweary

with Professor Timothy Bottom

Nowhere is the frenetic pace at which language evolves so excitingly demonstrated than in the field of swearing. If you passionately want someone to know that they are a complete FRUMPBANGLER, or a rancid heap of SPAPCHIT, or even that they are the inbred son of a TWANKY FROOTPAPPER, then you have an almost limitless choice of words and phrases at your disposal. And that choice is expanding all the time as people come up with new insults, oaths and expletives.

So let's take a look at some of the most interesting swearwords in circulation and, if you can get the hang of how to use them, maybe you won't finish up looking like a complete SPRUNT.


This word derives from the old German word 'trampschaft', which was used up until the mid-19th century to describe a major component on a foot-treadle operated loom. The trampschaft was known to break frequently, causing significant inconvenience, expense and injury - especially when it flew off unexpectedly and hit workers in the rear.

What made it worse was that the trampschaft was an entirely redundant part of the overall mechanism, serving no purpose other than to provide work for travelling loom menders. Not surprising then that in its modern form TRUMPSHAFT is used to describe something that is unreliable, useless and likely to be a pain in the arse.


If someone called you FRATTOCKY, you might think that it meant that you were like a frattock. Well, that's rubbish, but it's not unexpected since it's exactly the kind of thing that a FRATTOCKY person like you would believe. FRATTOCKY is used to describe someone who jumps to logical conclusions based on perfectly reasonable assumptions, but who must be ridiculed and derided for it all the same. There is no such thing as a 'frattock'. You are not to know that but we're going to laugh about you all the same, because you're so FRATTOCKY.


SPEEDLETWAP has two distinct meanings, depending on how it is used. If a total stranger was to hiss it at you from their corner of their mouth, perhaps as you were passing them on the street, then it means a small, hand-operated talcum powder dispenser of the type once common in the 18th century. Since such hand-operated talcum powder dispensers are these days quite rare, and since it is even rarer that anyone would want to clandestinely mention such an object to you in the street, the use of the word in this context has all but died out.

Alternatively, if someone was to scream the word SPEEDLETWAP at full volume directly into your face, it means the former residence of Baron Otto von Liepstein of Bavaria. The building was demolished more than eighty years ago and the only person ever known to go around screaming it at people is currently in a secure hospital, so the use of the word in this context is equally rare.

I don't know why I mentioned it, really.


In these enlightened times, TUPPLEMONKING is no longer an offence in most Western nations. Not if you're doing it right, anyway. That said, you'd probably get a few disapproving looks if you started TUPPLEMONKING in the fruit and veg aisle of your local supermarket. I certainly did, anyway, and the manager wasn't at all pleased when he had to throw out a whole consignment of fresh radishes.


I'm sure most people will be familiar with this one: CHONK is one of the most commonly used words in the English language, helped by the fact that it can be used in a wide variety of different ways. You will surely have heard phrases such as "I couldn't give a CHONK, mate," "What the CHONK do you think you're playing at?" and "This CHONK suddenly got real." But what the CHONK does it all mean? Well some historians think that the word is Roman in origin, but Professor Kyle Barnabas from the Oxford Centre for Frittering Away Public Funding has gone on record to state that this is a load of old CHONK, and that the CHONKING CHONKERS who insist on perpetuating this kind of ill-educated CHONKERY ought to be CHONKED in the CHONKER, then perhaps they'd think twice before opening their stupid CHONKING mouths.

"The word clearly comes from the Greek," Professor Barnabas concludes. "And I'll have anyone who dares say different. Come on, do you want some!"


The first known use of this word was on the Rosetta Stone, an ancient Egyptian decree instructing people to stop GRUMPFUTTING in the streets. Ancient Egyptians were forever doing this, probably because they didn't have telly back in olden days, and officials were concerned that it was a public health hazard and was scaring the cattle. Any GRUMPFUTTERS who were caught GRUMPFUTTING had to have a damn good explanation for what they were doing, else they would be heavily fined or thrown in prison. This last punishment proved to be a particularly good deterrent, since Egyptian prison cells were usually far too small to get any GRUMPFUTTING done in any meaningful way.

The word appears on the Rosetta Stone in three different languages, including Egyptian Hieroglyphics, although in most reproductions the symbol for GRUMPFUTTING is censored as it is considered obscene.


Finally, the most recent word on our list. The first known use of SCHLUNT was a week last Tuesday when a man shouted it at me from his car after I accidentally cut him up at a roundabout. Its exact meaning is not clear, but the man didn't half seem cross.

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No. 128: Chinese Shelves.
'Help for your drooping rose, sagging hydrangea or bent tulip'
A breakthrough for nuclear powered lunches
Misaligned caster causes pile up.
Introduction of the first colour knitting patterns.
Choose from the best clowns in the business
How to look trendy and windswept
Cracked fondant? We can help.
The dark side of interior decorating
Power tools hidden in confectionery.


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