What does that mean? Well, profanity is from the root word profane which means to take something sacred and make it unholy. So saying “God” or “Jesus” in some form other than a discussion or a prayer, for instance as an exclamation after you smash your finger, is profanity.
Cursing? Well, that’s when you say someone is “damned” or “damn it to hell” or “God damn it.” All of those are curses. All of them are wishing not just bad experiences but the ultimate in negativity on a person or thing. (I am not sure you can damn a thing.)
Cussing… That’s everything else.
My grandfather-in-law says shit is a fine word. It means feces. Piss, I would assume, is the same thing. It means urine. That gets crap, pee pee, poo poo, and tee tee all covered. They’re just words for using the bathroom. If you use them in that context, according to him, it’s good.
But should you use them in any other context? “I don’t give a shit,” when you mean you don’t care, not that you’re constipated. “You’re shitting me,” when you mean you are having a hard time believing the person, not that they’ve digested you and are presently excreting you.
Personally I don’t like them. And I don’t find them useful words in mixed company. Older people are uncomfortable with them. Younger people use them too much, sometimes, because their vocabulary has become limited to the random four letter words. I would rather use a word that people know and doesn’t bother anyone. We are, at this time, still a culture where not everything needs to be talked about with everyone. And so, the radio, which can speak to anyone of any age with a radio near them, has FCC rules limiting profanity. Some people don’t like that. I don’t mind it. I think that a certain level of language is polite. Cussing, cursing, profanity, and random four letter words are not polite language.
My husband asked me, in a discussion whose beginning and middle I do not remember, if I thought f*** was okay to teach a five year old. I told him no. But, I added, I don’t think orgasm is an appropriate word for a five year old either. I think sexual words should be limited to times when most five year old children won’t be around to hear them. And f*** is a sexual word.
What does it mean when someone says to f off? It means get lost, leave me alone. But it’s literal meaning appears to be masturbate. Do I think that is appropriate language out of an adult in a normal conversation? No. Do I think it is okay for grown ups to masturbate? Yes. But I don’t have discussions about the topic while waiting in line at the post office.
How about f*** you? It is usually used to mean get lost, leave me alone, or you’re wrong. But it’s literal meaning appears to be “have sex perpetrated on you when you do not want it,” in other words rape. I am not for that in any form or fashion and I do not think it is ever appropriate in any conversation. You don’t want a lecture from me on the sexual assault statistics? Don’t use it as a curse or a conversation ender.
“Flipping the bird” is a symbol which is a speech. It means, literally, the same thing as above only, apparently, it’s a visual symbol and could limit the physical assault to being perpetrated with a finger. But it could just mean what is meant above.
I know that people say the above things when they are angry, or irritated, or frustrated. But wouldn’t that be a better thing to say? “I’m frustrated.” “I don’t know why you’re wrong, but you are.” “It’s not any of your business and it irritates me that you think you have the right to discuss it with me, or with anyone.”
I think that your personal liberty ends before it hits my ears. So if you are at home and want to use those words, I can’t say much about it unless you are my husband or sons. But if you are in the world and want to have a conversation with me, then I should want to have a conversation with you- or at least want to hear your words. I don’t want to hear those words. I’m not alone in that.