BLURGH! You Fracking Smeghead!

What did she say?

Orson Scott Card cautioned against using invented swears in fiction because the fake “oaths” risked making the story silly. Fair enough. But, frak it, sometimes cussing is the only way to let it out. On-screen rules occasionally prohibit or limit profanity. So, screenwriters get creative. Even Fantastic Mr. Fox had to release some heat (“This is going to be a total cluster-cuss,” “You scared the cuss out of us”).

Using cuss as a cuss is cute, but pretty vanilla. For real kapow, here are some of the most creative fake swears seen on screen.

WATCH: Claque: Visual Word of the Day

"Blurgh, you jagweed"

Liz Lemon first uttered “Blurgh!” in a 2007 episode of 30 Rock. It was so good, so compelling a swear that she used it three other times in the episode. It’s been immortalized ever since as a word expressing “revulsion, deflation, and disgust" (and even appears on its own merch too).

Tina Fey, who plays Ms. Lemon and who is the show’s creator, explained to GOOD Magazine that Blurgh was one of the invented swears the writers came up with while trying to circumvent the no-swear policy of network television.

Jagweed, another zesty example of lewd-Lemon lexicon, is synonymous with “douchebag.” The fake cuss is a funny corruption of jerk off and jack off (you know, relating to the masturbatory undertaking).

“You fusking cloff-prunker”

In the early 1990s, the British comedy sketch show A Bit of Fry & Laurie was a platform for Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie to engage in hilarious bouts of wordplay. Aside from “The Language Conversation” (an episode focusing on the flexibility and arbitrariness of language), the most inventive displays of lexical wizardry were the meaningless but nevertheless obscene-sounding tell-offs: “You fusking cloff-prunker” and “Skank off, you cloffing cuck, you're all a load of shote-bag fuskers, so prunk that up your prime-ministering pim-hole."

When asked to explain what cloff-prunker means, Stephen Fry explains it’s a practice whereby “one person frangilates another’s slimp . . . and smuctat[es] them avially.” Very clear.


Frak is one of the most well-known fake swears in fiction. Its appearances off the mothership Battlestar Galactica, in entertainment as divergent as Gossip Girl and the Dilbert comic strip, demonstrate frak’s immense appeal. And, who wouldn't want to display this famous fake swear in all its glory?

A futuristic stand-in for the f-word, frak first appeared in the 1978 series Battlestar Galactica. Originally spelled “frack,” the word was revamped for the 2010 revival of the series so that it reflected its true “four-letter-word” nature. Though not an intention of the producers, the respelling now differentiates the fictional swear from the practice of fracking . . . frak fracking!


Farscape’s frell is another example of how writing teams imaginatively side-step the boundaries of what can be said on TV. According to a Farscape fan site, frell is used by Sebaceans, bipedal beings that look uncannily like humans (and can be played by them on the show, to the producers’ relief). Frell replaces the “coarse Anglo-Saxon monosyllable indicating sexual intercourse,” i.e., our old favorite: the f-word.


In 2002, Joss Whedon combined Western and sci-fi genres in Firefly, set in the year 2517. The language of the show is a mix of English and Chinese, reflecting Whedon’s visionary world in which the U.S. and China are the two most powerful cultures on the planet. Gorram is a substitute for God damn, and may be a “Chinglish” pronunciation of the swear according to Some fans question if gorram is actually a Chinese word, or somehow related to similar sounding words meaning “testicles,” “rotten,” and “f-d up” in various Chinese dialects. Others say there is no connection to Chinese.

However, Charles Dickens coined gormed in the 1800s, possibly as a mild form of “gosh darned” (and therefore of “God damned”) so this one may be older than BrownCoats know.    

“What the cabbage?”

The leap from adult sci-fi genres to a child’s fantasy adventure cartoon is not insignificant. Especially considering this slideshow is about invented cuss words. Adventure Time appeals to both kids and parents through the interactions of the protagonists, Finn and Jake, with magical characters in the Land of Ooo.

Along the way English words conjuring (for some) utter doom and dismay—like lump, cabbage, and math—are cheekily used in especially emotional dialogue: “I lumping hate them!,” “What the cabbage?,” and “I wanna go to sleep and you’re creeping me the math out!” While not coined from scratch, these cusses are certainly creative.

"Why, you stuck up, half-witted, scruffy-looking, nerfherder! "

Hop aboard the Millennium Falcon to venture back into the universe of fake swears. Star Wars is rife with inventive curse words, from f-bomb alternatives (farkled and krong), insults (laser brain and the Huttese E chu ta), to general expletives like vape and varp.

In The Empire Strikes Back, Princess Leia insults Han Solo as a nerfherder, someone who—as anyone from Alderaan would know—herds nerfs or “foul-smelling furry quadrupeds bred for meat across the galaxies.” Nerfherders had a bad reputation for being dirty and smelling like nerfs.


Coincidentally, while the human survivors on Battlestar Galactica were yelling “Frack you!” to the Ceylons, Mork (in Mork & Mindy) was exclaiming “Shazbot!” Robin Williams, the actor portraying Mork, might have invented the Orkan profanity in a moment of ad-libbed genius. Shazbot evokes the smelly “shiz” of a robot, and it was comfortably used in place of the four-letter word for the smelly droppings of a human.

"Smeggy, smegging smegger!”

“. . . smeg off . . . you annoyingly little smeggy, smegging smegger!” proclaims a character in the British sci-fi comedy Red Dwarf. Based on this insult, in which smeg so flexibly morphs into any part of speech, it seems smeg can be used in place of at least a couple choice curse words. Adding head is a nice option if going for a version of shizhead (we have to euphemize; we know you understand).

The Red Dwarf screenwriters claim no association, but this coined obscenity has a fairly disgusting real cousin in English (and in physical anatomy): smegma is the “thick, cheeselike secretion” that collects beneath and around male and female netherparts. That’s smegging gross.

“Where the smurf are we?”

To help you move on from that last smegging visual, we’ll turn to The Smurfs. The little blue mushroom-dwellers use the word smurf to mean just about anything: “Our village has been smurfed by a smurf that smurfs smurf.”When you smurf that smurf, you smurf off a whole series of smurfed smurfections . . . .”

Only Smurfs truly understand what one Smurf-speaking Smurf is smurfing. Smurf comes close to a minced oath for God in Papa Smurf’s cries of “Great smurfs!” and “Name of a smurf!” In the 2011 movie, there was no smurf about it: Smurf became a smurf-word: “Where the smurf are we?”

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