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four-letter word

[fawr-let-er, fohr-] /ˈfɔrˌlɛt ər, ˈfoʊr-/
any of a number of short words, usually of four letters, considered offensive or vulgar because of their reference to excrement or sex.
any word, typically of four letters, that represents something forbidden, disliked, or regarded with extreme distaste:
In the dieter's vocabulary, “cake” is a four-letter word.
Origin of four-letter word
First recorded in 1925-30 Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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Examples from the Web for four-letter words
Contemporary Examples
Historical Examples
  • The mysterious column of four-letter words, however, did not respond to any methods of translation that I knew.

    Kastle Krags Absalom Martin
British Dictionary definitions for four-letter words

four-letter word

any of several short English words referring to sex or excrement: often used as swearwords and regarded generally as offensive or obscene
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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four-letter words in Culture

four-letter words definition

Euphemism for the most common verbal obscenities.

four-letter words definition

Obscene (see obscenity) or very vulgar words of four letters, such as piss. Most four-letter words refer to excretion or sex.

The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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Slang definitions & phrases for four-letter words

four-letter word

noun phrase

Any of several short English words generally regarded as obscene or offensive (1920s+)

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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Idioms and Phrases with four-letter words

four-letter word

Any of several short English words that are generally regarded as vulgar or obscene. For example, No four-letter words are permitted in this classroom. This expression is applied mostly to words describing excretory or sexual functions. [ First half of 1900s ]
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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Nearby words for four-letter words

Difficulty index for four-letter word

Few English speakers likely know this word

Word Value for four

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