January 24th 2013 | Comments

The gentleman’s guide to swearing

Swearing. It is neither big nor clever, but let us assume that you already have a full and frank working knowledge of all the major swear words and profane expressions that blight the English language.

A true gentleman always keeps his cool, but there may come a time when certain, unpleasant language may be required. Even then, he must negotiate a minefield of manners, less he finds himself socially ostracised, in front of a magistrate, or fighting a duel to settle a matter of honour.

While a knowledge of swearing is of vital importance for the gentleman – how else would he know if he has been slandered with blackguardly language – it is essential that he knows what language is acceptable and where.

Don Cheadle Says No To Swearing

In the normal circumstances, the gentleman should NEVER sink so low as to use the following terms:

  • The F-word
  • The C-word
  • The W-word
  • The A-word
  • The other C-word
  • The D-word

We are aware that this removes most of the modern gentleman’s arsenal from popular use, but these rules still allow for a certain – barely acceptable – amount of profanity. Instead, we recommend words that are not profane, but can be taken as an insult without causing offence to innocent ears. “You, sir, are a …

  • Blackguard
  • Mountebanke
  • Cur
  • Poltroon
  • Poppinjay
  • Dollymop

…of the first water, damn your eyes”. Anything stronger than this is not the language of a gentleman and should be avoided at all costs.

When not to swear

1. In church. The only exception to this is during the singing of Good King Wenceslas at the Christmas Carol Concert, where the final verse contains the line “Heat was in the very sod”, which may be bellowed at the top of your lungs.

2. At the race course. A gentleman retains his manners no matter how badly his horses have run. However, he may be excused if he has backed an amusingly named steed such as “Monster Dick”, whose name may be shouted all the way to the finishing post.

3. When meeting royalty. The only exception being – of course – if the Duke of Edinburgh is present, then it’s all hands to the pump.

4. When run over by a horse and cart at Oxford Circus. It is at these life-changing moments that decorum should be maintained. On espying your shattered lower limbs, a mere “dash and blast it, now I shall be late for the Savoy” will suffice before blacking out.

Of course, there is a time and a place for swearing. The smoking room of a gentlemen’s club is acceptable, as long as house rules are obeyed, as would be the Regimental Officer’s Mess, but only after the port has been passed.

However, there is only one place for the language of the tavern, and that is in the tavern itself with the low-lifes, the layabouts and the thieves. Alas, no gentleman should find himself there without good excuse.

Mind your manners, gentlemen.