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What do minced words mean in writing and speech?

Minced words are sissy swears. They’re the words we might substitute for real profanity. Instead of penning or uttering foul epithets, we use these seemingly euphemistic exclamations, perhaps hoping to avoid offending polite company.

What does mincing even mean?

Mincing points to posturing, pretending, or putting on airs. In terms of language, mincing refers to lessening, palliating, softening, or weakening the words we use. It's sort of a creative cussing, except it's not really all that creative.

How many of these 75 minced word phrasings do you recognize?

And can you decipher the actual swear words for which they stand? (If you know the answers, don’t shout them out!)

  1. balderdash
  2. baloney
  3. bejabbers
  4. bleeding heck
  5. bloody
  6. bloody heck
  7. B.S.
  8. bugger
  9. by golly
  10. by Jove
  11. cheese and crackers
  12. cheese whiz
  13. consarn
  14. crikey
  15. cripes
  16. dad gum it
  17. dagnabbit
  18. dang
  19. darn
  20. doggone
  21. drat
  22. egad
  23. fark
  24. fiddlesticks
  25. figs
  26. for crying out loud
  27. for Pete’s sake
  28. for pity's sake
  29. freaking
  30. fudge
  31. gadzooks
  32. gee whiz
  33. gee willikers
  34. godfrey
  35. gol-darn
  36. golly
  37. good gravy
  38. good grief
  39. goodness gracious
  40. gosh
  41. gosh darn
  42. great godfrey Daniel
  43. Heaven's to Betsy
  44. heck
  45. holy cow
  46. holy heck
  47. holy moley
  48. holy smokes
  49. holy spit
  50. horse feathers
  51. jeepers
  52. jeepers creepers
  53. jeez
  54. Jiminy Christmas
  55. Jiminy Cricket
  56. Judas Priest
  57. land sakes
  58. moley mackerel
  59. my goodness
  60. my word
  61. OMG
  62. omigosh
  63. Sam Hill
  64. shoot
  65. shucks
  66. son of a beach
  67. son of a biscuit
  68. son of a gun
  69. suffering succotash
  70. sugar
  71. tarnation
  72. thunderation
  73. ticked off
  74. what the dickens
  75. what the heck

Maybe we’re not as polite as we think we are.

What’s more, this collection of sissy swears or minced words does not even include euphemisms for the worst ethnic, gender, or other particular people-directed curse words.

Girl Chopping Onions
by Gerrit Dou

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