Does Swearing Really Make You Sound More Intelligent?

Does swearing make you sound more intelligent? I’m sure by now you’ve heard both sides of this argument many times. With parents telling you not to swear or you’ll sound stupid and people online telling you “hey, swearing actually helps”, it’s hard to know which advice to follow. That’s where I come in! My two friends and I tried using no swears for a week as a challenge on our podcast, and I’m here to tell you how it really went! 

Our podcast (listen here), is called Better Off Better. It started with me and my two best friends entering into a verbal agreement that affected my life from then on. We do weekly challenges to test out things that people everywhere seem to think make them better people. Now, we know we aren’t great people. So why not try and fix that though very competitive challenges where we purposely pit ourselves against each other? Doesn’t that sound healthy?

Does Swearing Really Make You Sound More Intelligent?

How Can You Test If Swearing Makes You More Intelligent?

So this week started with a tallying app on my phone and low hopes. I, like many people, use swearing as a placeholder in my sentences when I get excited and start rambling or talking quickly. (As well as many other unspecified scenarios…) I was pretty sure this week was a lost cause, but I tried really hard to speak consciously and really pay attention to the times when I was looking for filler words in my train of thought. I actually did really well on the weeks challenge, and surprised myself with relatively low numbers.

This week was also filled with what I’ve coined as the “double negative” (sometimes triple…) where I would accidentally slip up and then re-correct with the same swear. eg: “ Shit, I didn’t fucking— Oh fuck I swore… Fuck I swore again!” followed by a prompt hand-to-the-mouth gesture to stop it all together. How charming. And with that, let’s get into the nitty gritty of not swearing for a week and see some of the other fun issues it came with!

Stifling Swearing Excitement

Not swearing definitely made me slow down my speech to make sure I wasn’t saying any bad words. (Or rather, minimizing the ones I did say). I’m sure this would be less of a problem if you never used these words in the first place, but for an avid user of curse words, I found that I definitely didn’t sound more intelligent without them. This was mainly because I had to think extra long on any sentence I started, and thus spoke slower and with much less enthusiasm for the subject at hand. 

I think this could aid or hurt you depending on the situation though. A lack of passion in some settings could be more harmful than a few swears slipping out, and vise versa. I’m sure this would get easier after prolonged practice, but a week didn’t seem to cut it for me. So really, it put a block on free flowing thoughts. That was the most frustrating thing about this week as a whole. And that isn’t the worst thing in the world. 

Typing Your Swears

Now this may have been a classic case of me taking it to the extreme for no reason. But when I asked “Does swearing make you more intelligent”, I thought of texting. so, to push the envelope this week, I also tried to limit my swears in typing, texting, and writing. I urge you to look back through your texts like I did because I was genuinely surprised by how much I swear in casual conversation even through text. Sometimes for dramatic effect, sometimes to add to a joke, sometimes just because I’m furiously typing and it happens to slip out, but boy were they there. This one was definitely far easier to overcome, especially if you tend to be a slow texter, but it still shines some light on just how much we use swears as filler words. 

Similar to “uh, um, like” and those other gems we all know (check out our other episode where we cut out these words for a week- it’s even more difficult than this… really”, these words just kind of happen. Even when typing, I had to be extra cautious of it. I’m not sure if swearing in texts is said to make you more intelligent. If it is I’m going to have to disagree with that one. 

Pain, pain, pain! 

Do you realize how many swears come out when you stub a toe? Have you ever really paid attention to it? Well do me a favor. Recreate my hardest moment of the week and slam your toe into a wall as hard as you can as you try to stifle the following string of bad words. Just try it out for me. (not really, it was terrible.) It’s so hard to stifle that immediate pain response with something other than the usual f’s and s’s. Point proven. 


The sheer amount of nonsense made up words I’ve said this week is complete insanity. I’ve said words and sounds that I’m convinced have never been uttered before. It truly became a skill to start with a “shiiii”—and and with a “ba-doodle-de-do”. I felt like a new mum trying to keep things PG around a child. This one really isn’t a negative. Unless you count looking crazy to any passerby as I made noises about the frozen berries being out of stock in the supermarket. 

It was actually pretty funny and lifted my spirits a bit when I did catch a swear and change it into some goofy word. You may sound like a kindergarten teacher trying to not lose their job… But it can lift your spirits a bit when something bad happens. Replacing your usual angry swearing with a fun whoville sounding “swear” was quite the redeeming quality. 

Does Swearing Really Make You Sound More Intelligent?


So, does swearing make you sound more intelligent? Or should you kick the curse words to the curb?

Overall, yea, I’d say cutting down on the swears during a job interview or thanksgiving dinner is probably in your best interest, but swears themselves aren’t a super damaging thing in my opinion. Knowing and practicing how to be conscious of where and when you are saying these words is a super useful skill that this week helped me build up. 

I would recommend this challenge for that aspect alone. However, I wouldn’t say it’s super urgent that you dam up those cuss words entirely. (Fuck you, mom!) ((Not really though, sorry mom if you’re reading this)). It’s just a nice way to keep track of how you’re speaking in different companies. 

Does Swearing Really Make You Sound More Intelligent?

Thanks so much for reading, and feel free to let us know if you tried this challenge out! We’d love to hear about it!

Check out our podcast Better Off Better to hear us struggle with dropping the swears for a week!

How about the author of this post, Jenny Whipple

Also, our Youtube channel for video podcasts and other comedy stuff

Thank you for reading!