The 4 Occasions It’s Okay to Curse

Updated: Feb. 09, 2017

Studies have shown that there are times when it's acceptable, even healthier, to use curse words rather than to contain yourself.


When you’re in pain

A 2009 study from Keele University in the UK found that swearing can increase pain tolerance. For the experiment, 64 students were asked to submerge one of their hands in a bucket of ice water for as long as possible. When the subjects repeated a swear word of their choice, they were able to withstand the ice bucket for 140 seconds, compared to only 70 second when they repeated a non-swear word.


When you’re angry

As long as your words aren’t directed at someone, swearing can be cathartic, writes psychologist John M. Grohol on Using the curses can free you from feelings of anger or frustration, he explains.


When you’re feeling helpless

Swearing makes you feel in control, even if you’re not. This “can boost confidence and self-esteem, and provide the impetus for further corrective action to be taken,” writes psychiatrist Neel Burton on


When you’re on hold

If you’re frustrated with an automated voice menu or can’t stand another second of hold music, try swearing. In addition to helping you feel more in control of the situation, often systems are programed to detect profanity and thus connect you with a real person more quickly.

Reader's Digest
Originally Published in Reader's Digest