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 formscuss·er, noun
Can be confusedcurse cuss Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2019

Examples from the Web for cuss

Contemporary Examples of cuss

Historical Examples of cuss

  • 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?'

  • I know a whole string of cuss words an' I can say them as fast as now-I-lay-me.

British Dictionary definitions for cuss



a curse; oath
a person or animal, esp an annoying one


another word for curse (def. 8), curse (def. 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

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