Dictionary.com
definitions
  • synonyms

four-letter word

[fawr-let-er, fohr-]
noun
  1. any of a number of short words, usually of four letters, considered offensive or vulgar because of their reference to excrement or sex.
  2. 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.
Show More

Origin of four-letter word

First recorded in 1925–30
Dictionary.com Unabridged Based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018

Related Words for four-letter words

profanity, vulgarity, expletive, obscenity, curse, oath, swear, cuss, swearword

British Dictionary definitions for four-letter words

four-letter word

noun
  1. any of several short English words referring to sex or excrement: often used as swearwords and regarded generally as offensive or obscene
Show More
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

four-letter words in Culture

four-letter words

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

Show More

four-letter words

Euphemism for the most common verbal obscenities.

Show More
The New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.

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]

Show More
The American Heritage® Idioms Dictionary Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company.