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“A word is felt to be old-fashioned,” Sheidlower says, “another word takes its place.” In many cases, that progression is due to overuse sapping a word of its previously shocking essence or disassociating it from its initial, offensive connotation.

contributor and editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary Jesse Sheidlower.And “such words can fall out of use for various reasons.The entire category can change, so that, for example, words insulting one’s parentage, such as Sometimes taboo words simply fade away for fairly random-seeming reasons.“It’s not just that people swear on Urban Dictionary or on You Tube,” she says. And I think that has the effect of making it less taboo if everybody’s talking about it.” , among other books. Those words are not profane in what our modern culture is—they are, rather, salty. Anyone who objects would be surprised to go back 50 years and try to use those words as casually as we do now and ever be asked again to parties.” —the super-badass, cannot-be-effed-with, undisputed heavyweight champion of all curse words—has not escaped the passage of time with the full force of its offensiveness intact.Sheidlower, who is also editor of , as well as its many uses and variations that have cropped up throughout the English-speaking world—is perhaps the world’s foremost expert on this topic.

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