Is Swearing a sign of intelligence?

A study shows that those who swear often are frequently highly intelligent:

“The overall finding of this set of studies, that taboo fluency is positively correlated with other measures of verbal
fluency, undermines the [normal] view of swearing”. (

I am no plaster saint and will use the odd expletive from time to time. It is, however almost always under my breath and not something of which I am proud. In my (admittedly unscientific experience) those who employ profanity in their everyday interactions with others do, almost invariably possess a limited vocabulary which accounts for their inability to communicate without utilising swear words. In short I am unconvinced by the findings of this research.


13 thoughts on “Is Swearing a sign of intelligence?

    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thanks for your comment Chris. I vividly remember having my mouth washed out with soap and water as a child at school. Obviously I condemn treating any child in that manner and anyone who does so should be dealt with severely. It did, however help to implant in my mind the view that swearing is not a clever activity in which to engage!

  1. Kev

    What a load of bollocks!…Correlations mean diddly swat. In my experience, most swearing is nothing more than a trophy of bravado among peers. 🙂

    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thanks for your comment Kev. I think you have a point. Broadening the discussion,there is, of
      course a point to swearing when used in literature. For example anyone
      wishing to write a realistic account (fictional or factual) about the
      lives of the Liverpool dockers, would need to acknowledge the profuse
      use by them of 4 letter words. A fictional account would need to
      utilise such language otherwise it would lack authenticity.

      1. Kev

        Agreed… My dad was a Hull docker… Very much the same, and as I said…. among peers, even back then. 🙂

  2. Victoria Zigler (@VictoriaZigler)

    First of all, I totally disagree with the findings of this study. In fact, I think the opposite is true, and consider the use of constant swear words in place of others to be a sign that the person lacks the intelligence to find more suitable words. In short, I agree with your opinion.

    Secondly, you would think they had more important things to be using funds for scientific research on than whether or not swearing is a sign of intelligence. What a complete waste of resources which could have been better employed in finding a cure for cancer, or something else equally important.

    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thanks for your comment Tori. I agree with you that funds could have been better spent. The K Morris Beer Fund strikes me as a highly suitable recipient for any cash which happens to be going spare …! Seriously, research into cancer, HIV prevention or some other worthy cause would, in my view have been a worthier recipient. Kevin

  3. D.T. Nova

    Everybody keeps getting this wrong, and the Daily Fail doing the same is hardly any surprise.

    The actual finding was that knowing more swear words correlates with a larger overall vocabulary; it had nothing to do with how often a person uses those words.

  4. Gilly

    I can only smile at this when I think of some highly intelligent, well educated friends who swear like Liverpool dockers! And I am afraid I must admit, that despite having a high IQ, good education and excellent emotional intelligence too, I take great delight, in appropriate moments, in using a much harsher form of ‘go forth and multiply’. Sometimes, there is no substitute for those two glorious words when all else has failed! 🙂

    1. drewdog2060drewdog2060 Post author

      Thank you for your comment which brought a smile to my face. I, like you, have often wished to use a stronger form of “go forth and multiply”. Being blind I sometimes come across people who believe that visual impairment equates to a lack of intelligence and, as a consequence patronise me. In such instances I am sorely tempted to tell said persons to take a long walk off a short cliff, but using rather more colourful language …! Best. Kevin


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