When you have small children (I imagine), you have to be careful what you say around them. They are just learning to speak and may seize on any word and repeat it unpredictably. This happened to a friend of mine who somehow managed to say “scrotum” within earshot of his small son. The word subsequently turned up in various inappropriate situations, to general hilarity. I’m sure this happens thousands of times a day, all over the world.
I’m not sure of the context for my friend’s “scrotum” — when you’re annoyed, all kinds of expletives can just pop out. Of course, this won’t be a problem for me, because I don’t know any rude words (except “scrotum”, and I will be careful to avoid using it gratuitously). But for the rest of you, I am compiling a list of swear words that you can safely say in front of even the most parrot-like three-year-old.
My Giddy Aunt! This sounds like something out of Gilbert & Sullivan, or possibly P. G. Wodehouse. Probably not so good if you actually do have an aunt who is giddy.
Oh, Bother. If it’s good enough for Pooh, it’s good enough for me.
Clinkers! I don’t know much about this one, but it is quite satisfying to say.
Drat. An undisputed classic.
Curses! Say this with a scowl as you angrily twirl the end of your waxed moustache. Best followed up with “…foiled again!”
Tarnation! A bit of Wild West flavour to this one.
Belgium. A rather abstract epithet from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Will probably confuse any child that hears it. Especially a Belgian child.
Fiddle-dee-dee! “What’s the French for fiddle-dee-dee?” — the Red Queen
Crumbs. This word has lovely visual appeal.
Criminy! Only characters from The Far Side ever actually say this. Maybe it deserves broader use.
Whether you have kids or not, give these words a try sometime. People are so used to hearing the same old swear words all the time — use one of these and people might actually pay attention to your annoyance.
If you have any other good words, please leave a comment — I’d love to hear your suggestions!
Update: Since I first wrote this post, I have had two children myself. They have given me many opportunities to put these ideas into practice. And while they were learning to talk, they were also tweeting at @talkingjay and @talkingfelix. Soon I will be able to retire and let them do all the writing.