If there’s one thing I need to add to my hectic schedule, it’s figuring out which swear words are most popular in certain regions across the United States. Thankfully, United Kingdom lecturer of forensic linguistics, Jack Grieve, has created just the website that will allow me to spend hours avoiding the laundry while instead looking up which part of the United States says “fuckboy” the most.
I mean, is there any more productive use of my time? I think not.
Grieve, whose very important work in determining the popularity of certain swears across the United States initially gained widespread recognition in 2015, first analyzed data from an 8.9-billion-word collection of tweets in 2013-14. From there, he was able to determine the frequency with which certain words were used in various American regions.
According to Strong Language: A Sweary Blog About Swearing (is that not the best website title ever?):
The red–blue scale shows relative frequency. The frequency of a word in the tweets from a given county is divided by the total number of words from that county (which correlates strongly with population density). The result is then smoothed using spatial autocorrelation analysis, with Getis-Ord z-scores mapped to identify clusters.
In the image above, which maps the usage frequency for the word “asshole,” one can see this word is quite popular in the Northeast, in some areas of the Midwest, in some areas out West, and in the southern part of Texas. The Southern states, however, don’t seem to favor this curse, bless their hearts.
How do some of the other popular swears fare?
Since the release of the heat maps in 2015, Grieve has created a Word Mapper website that allows users to type in their own favorite swears to see how they rank in popularity across the nation. And while the Word Mapper isn’t perfect in that it won’t distinguish between uses of “Dick” (the name) and “dick” (the insult), the results are still pretty awesome.
As you can see, “turd” is pretty popular throughout the US.
To see the usage frequency of all the best swears, check out the most recent sweary maps, and be sure to give the Word Mapper a try. So what if you have dishes to do and kids to parent? This is important.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to Twitter to try and make some of my own made-up swears popular. Look out, sweary maps! This is gonna be my year!