The Most Popular Swear Words on Facebook   

A Blog About Language
Sept. 11 2013 2:24 PM

The Most Popular Swear Words on Facebook   

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Photo illustration by Natalie Matthews-Ramo. Computer by Jeff Huting/Thinkstock Images.

Someday, when aliens are sifting through Facebook data to find out what 21st-century humans thought and cared about, they’re going to see a lot of shit. That’s the most popular swear word on Facebook, according to an analysis Slate conducted using a new Facebook developer tool that estimates the number of user interactions (including public or private status updates, photo captions, and comments) that mention a word or phrase, and then breaks up the results by gender, age group, and region. In the three-day period queried, shit appeared in 10.5 million U.S. Facebook interactions, fuck in 9.5 million, damn in 6.3 million, bitch in 4.5 million, and crap in 2 million.

After these top five, male users and female users split. Perhaps in an effort to assert their heterosexuality, male users use fag more often than female users, and the homophobic slang appears in more than twice as many male interactions as female interactions. Pussy and dick are also more common among male users, while cock is more popular among females. Darn has the biggest gender gap, coming in at No. 8 for females and No. 13 for males. Douche is last out of the words examined, with 54,000 mentions over the three-day period, though slut outranks it among female users.

Popularity of Select Profanities by Gender

BothMaleFemale
1shitshitshit
2fuckfuckfuck
3damndamndamn
4bitchbitchbitch
5crapcrapcrap
6pissdickpiss
7dickpissdarn
8darnpussydick
9cockfagcock
10pussyassholeasshole
11assholecockpussy
12fagbastardfag
13bastarddarnbastard
14slutdoucheslut
15doucheslutdouche

Source: Facebook Keywords Insights API, from from midnight Sep. 2, 2013 to midnight Sep. 6, 2013. For each word, the rank reflects its mention counts relative to the other words in the table.

In general, the older the age group, the less popular sexual or gender-based profanities are. While shit, for example, remains fairly consistent across age groups, fuck, bitch, dick, and fag drop steeply with age, and damn, crap, and darn replace them. It’s unclear, however, whether people’s habits change as they age or whether these patterns simply reflect cultural differences between generations.

Popularity of Select Profanities by Age Group

13-1718-2425-3435-4445-5455+
1fuckfuckshitshitshitshit
2shitshitfuckdamndamndamn
3bitchbitchdamnfuckcrapfuck
4damndamnbitchcrapfuckcrap
5dickdickcrapbitchbitchdarn
6crappisspisspissdarnbitch
7fagcrapdickdickpissdick
8pisspussycockdarncockpiss
9pussyfagdarncockdickcock
10assholeassholeassholeassholeassholeasshole
11slutcockpussypussybastardbastard
12cockslutfagbastardpussypussy
13darndarnbastarddouchefagfag
14douchedouchedouchefagdoucheslut
15bastardbastardslutslutslutdouche

Source: Facebook Keywords Insights API, from from midnight Sep. 2, 2013 to midnight Sep. 6, 2013. For each word, the rank reflects its mention counts relative to the other words in the table.

Fuck is most popular in the West, the only region where it outranks shit. Darn and fag are also most highly ranked in the West, and it’s the only region where cock outranks dick. The top eight for the South and Midwest are identical, and the two regions split at cock and pussy, both of which are more popular in the South, and asshole, which is more popular in the Midwest. Dick and pussy are ranked most highly in the Northeast.

Popularity of Select Profanities by Region

MidwestWestSouthNortheast
1shitfuckshitshit
2fuckshitfuckfuck
3damndamndamndamn
4bitchbitchbitchbitch
5crapcrapcrapcrap
6pisspisspissdick
7dickdarndickpiss
8darnfagdarnpussy
9assholecockcockasshole
10cockdickpussycock
11fagassholeassholedarn
12pussypussyfagbastard
13bastardbastardbastardfag
14slutslutslutdouche
15douchedouchedoucheslut

Source: Facebook Keywords Insights API, from from midnight Sep. 2, 2013 to midnight Sep. 6, 2013. For each word, the rank reflects its mention counts relative to the other words in the table.

Unsurprisingly, bloody takes the No. 3 spot in Britain and No. 4 spot in Australia. In the lower ranks, bugger and bollocks are also more popular among the British, and Brits use arsehole over asshole. Brits and Australians seldom used darn, probably because the word comes from 18th-century New England. Cunt, which takes No. 17 in the U.S., is No. 8 in Britain and No. 5 in Australia, where it is apparently used much more casually (a Facebook group with 51,000 likes observes that cunt is replacing mate in Australian parlance). For the most part, Canada shares the U.S.’s profanities, although fuck is No. 1 in Canada and pussy is much more highly ranked in the States.

Popularity of Select Profanities by Country

U.S.BritainCanadaAustralia
1shitfuckfuckfuck
2fuckshitshitshit
3damnbloodydamnbitch
4bitchpissbitchbloody
5crapbitchcrapcunt
6pisscrappissdamn
7dickcockdickcrap
8darncuntdarndick
9cockdamncockpiss
10pussydickassholecock
11assholebastardfagbugger
12fagbuggerbastardfag
13bastardfagdoucheslut
14slutpussypussybastard
15douchebollocksbloodypussy
16bloodyslutslutasshole
17cuntarseholebuggerdarn
18buggerdarncuntdouche
19bollocksassholearseholearsehole
20arseholedouchebollocksbollocks

Source: Facebook Keywords Insights API, from from midnight Sep. 2, 2013 to midnight Sep. 6, 2013. For each word, the rank reflects its mention counts relative to the other words in the table.

Now, the fine print: First, the Facebook tool used to conduct this analysis cannot distinguish profane uses of a word from ordinary uses. For example, Facebook interactions mentioning the popular British dish spotted dick, or interactions mentioning a person named Dick, both add to the mention count for dick. Similarly, interactions that use fag as “a cigarette” add to the count for fag. Second, the tool does not distinguish cases in which the word appears inside another word. For example, fucking counts as a mention of fuck. For this reason, ass is excluded here because it appears in so many common English words, such as asset and assess. Hell is also excluded because it appears in hello. Third, the analysis tool estimates mention counts using a random one-fifth sample of all interactions, which does not include private, direct messages between Facebook users.

Chris Kirk is Slate's interactives editor. Follow him on Twitter.

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