- 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
- any of several short English words referring to sex or excrement: often used as swearwords and regarded generally as offensive or obscene
Obscene (see obscenity) or very vulgar words of four letters, such as piss. Most four-letter words refer to excretion or sex.
Idioms and Phrases with four-letter words
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]