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[kuhs] /kʌs/ Informal.
verb (used without object)
to use profanity; curse; swear.
verb (used with object)
to swear at; curse:
He cussed the pedestrian for getting in his way.
to criticize or reprimand in harsh terms (often followed by out):
The coach cussed out the team for losing.
curse word; oath.
a person or animal:
a strange but likable cuss.
Origin of cuss
1765-75, Americanism; variant of curse, with loss of r and shortening of vowel, as in ass2, bass2, passel, etc.
Related forms
cusser, noun
Can be confused
curse, cuss. Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for cuss
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • They won't let anybody cross their line, and they won't say anything—not even when you cuss 'em.

    Good Indian B. M. Bower
  • We brought up before the saddest-lookin' cuss I ever saw out of bed.

    Shorty McCabe Sewell Ford
  • The cuss turned green and stammered that he wasn't no animal tamer.

    Mary Rose of Mifflin

    Frances R. Sterrett
  • There, 'tisn't so bad to cuss and keep it in as to cuss and let it out, is it, sir?'

    A Pair of Blue Eyes Thomas Hardy
  • I know a whole string of cuss words an' I can say them as fast as now-I-lay-me.

    Mary Louise and Josie O'Gorman

    Emma Speed Sampson
  • And not a man of us, if His Reverence'll excuse me for saying so, dare let out a cuss afore her.

    Lords of the North A. C. Laut
  • She can cuss in two or three languages not specified in the guarantee.

    Watch Yourself Go By Al. G. Field
  • He's a deservin' cuss; an' th' Leetle Woman's ben like a mother tew us all.

    The Cave of Gold

    Everett McNeil
British Dictionary definitions for cuss


a curse; oath
a person or animal, esp an annoying one
another word for curse (sense 8), curse (sense 9)
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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Word Origin and History for cuss

1775, American English dialectal, "troublesome person or animal," an alteration of curse (n.), or else a shortening of the slang sense of customer.


"to say bad words," 1815, alteration of curse (v.). Related: Cussed; cussing. To cuss out attested by 1881.

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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Slang definitions & phrases for cuss



A man; fellow; guy •Most use since the 1860s

[1775+; a shortening of customer; or perhaps ''one who curses'']

The Dictionary of American Slang, Fourth Edition by Barbara Ann Kipfer, PhD. and Robert L. Chapman, Ph.D.
Copyright (C) 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers.
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