U.S. Swear Maps Show Who Cusses Where

Find out which U.S. regions swear like Marines and which are more restrained in this new data dump. Continue reading →

I think it's safe to say that most of us curse, to some extent. Some of us may swear like a Marine (like myself) and some of us might let fly a "dammit" now and again, which, IMO, is barely a swear word. But who'd have thunk that Americans cuss differently depending on where they live?

A creative linguistics professor (from the U.K., oddly) - Jack Grieve, of Aston University in Birmingham - has pulled together data from an 8.9-billion-word collection of location-coded tweets and created maps of common U.S. cursewords according to region, reports the wonderfully named blog StrongLanguage.com .

The results are hilarious and thought-provoking.

Take "the glorious f-bomb," for example, looking at the map at the top of this page.

From StrongLanguage.com: "The red–blue scale shows relative frequency. The frequency of a word in the tweets from a given county is divided by the total number of words from that county (which correlates strongly with population density). The result is then smoothed using spatial autocorrection analysis, with Getis-Ord z-scores mapped to identify clusters. Alaska and Hawaii are not included."

So, as you can see, probably the world's most popular cuss word is most popular around the coastal areas of the United States, according to the map. Not so much in the middle, where gosh and darn (and probably goshdarn) seem to be most prevalent (see the maps below).

Actually, there's not much swearing in the middle of the country, for some reason not addressed in the StrongLanguage.com article.

Another terrifically popular curseword, s--t, seems to be used much more in the southern United States, likely with a nice drawl in the middle: sheee–t.

The tweet data was collected by Diansheng Guo in 2013–14 and funded by Digging into Data.

You can see all of the maps close together on Jack Grieve's blog.

This swear map shows the regional uses of f--k, in red.