Is swearing sinful?

Aside from being distasteful and vulgar, is swearing sinful? For example: is using one of the “7 words” a sin? I’ve heard that swearing is sinful because it may cause scandal, others because it is disrespectful and others because it somehow violates the commandment to not take God’s name in vain. Does the Church have a particular standpoint?

Yes, swearing and profanity are venally sinful.

In some circumstances Cursing and Swearing can be a Mortal Sin.
I guess you have never heard a Navy Petty Officer chew out a Seaman…the air turns purple and you can smell sulphur burning!!! If you are a land lubber you will pale and get weak in the knees from hearing it!

Taking an oath in God’s name and breaking it is mortally sinful. Using the names of sacred persons and sacred things as an ejaculatory expression is at the least venally sinful. Christ also commanded us not to take oaths.

However, are vulgarities sinful? Like the s-word or f-word? No. They’re not. It may be venally sinful to scandalize your grandma, and it’s definitely sinful to disobey your parents if they command you not to use such words. However, using words of Anglo-Saxon origin instead of the French origin is not a sin in and of itself.

As for those who think that not using vulgarities makes them holier, indeed I also regard everything to be loss on account of the surpassing knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, on account of whom I have suffered the loss of all things; and I consider them **** (Greek word scubulua - literally, the s-word) so that I may gain Christ.

And seeing how Saint Paul also calls the circumcisers dogs, I’d say it’s also biblical to call someone a son of a *****.

Depends on what you mean by swearing. Or cussin’. Or potty-mouth.

Blasphemy. Taking the Lord’s Name in vain is actually prohibited by a Commandment. So that is definitely sinful. I also think it depends on context: if one shouts out the Name of the Lord, is it in supplication, invocation, grief, or rage?

For the following: I am not a theologian, and I don’t even play one on TV. So, YMMV on the following opinions:

Cursing. Invoking a curse, or damnation, on someone. I’d say that saying “D*** you” (or anyone else), or being even more specific, “D*** you to HE(double-hockey-sticks)” would also be sinful, as at the least an offence against charity, or possibly even a violation of the First Commandment (only God can condemn, and you put yourself in God’s place when you condemn like that). Plus, since being in Hell is the worst possible thing that can happen to a person, and you are willing that on someone, that’s worse than wishing them dead or murdering them in your heart. Using it as an adjective (“D*** flashlight won’t work,” or general “D*** it!”) *may *cause scandal, but I think, meeehhhh…talk to your confessor.

Profanity. From Latin *profanus *“unholy, not consecrated,” from pro fano “not admitted into the temple (with the initiates),” literally “out in front of the temple”. The verb to profane from Latin verb *profanare *“to desecrate, render unholy, violate”. So I would include in this category using holy words as expletives. A lot of this occurs in French-Canadian swearing, where the expressions of choice profane the Tabernacle, the Host, and the Chalice. I think expressions such as these are sinful as they are irreverent, disrespectful, and definitely scandalous. OTOH, yelling “Kneeler!” or “Aspergillum!” might not have the same level of profanity: there may not be any real prohibition against, say, taking Church Architecture in vain.

Now that insulting the Sacred is out of the way, we are left with the secular language offences, or Vulgarity, which, I believe, actually make up most of the “7 words”. It’s actually a social-class rather than religious thing: certain words are Just Not Said in polite company. The worst offender is the “F-bomb” – while it has no religious connotation at first blush :blush: I believe that to degrade the marriage act with such contempt, it’s sort of “verbal fornication” if you get my drift. Also, some people use it as a general expletive, devoid of any sexual reference, used only for effect (or possibly out of habit and limited vocabulary). It shows disrespect, but its sinfulness you’d have to discuss with your confessor.

I also think the same thing with regard to vulgar terms for body parts, especially the sex organs, and doubly so when said words are used to refer to a person as a whole (definite offence against charity).

The “S-word” and other pieces of “potty-language” are strictly vulgar, and I believe do not carry any weight of sin, altho’ I would not yell them out in Church. It was a perfectly cromulent word in Old English before the Normans invaded and decided that all those words for bodily functions etc were low-class and such things would only be discussable in polite society by using their noble Latin-derived French equivalents (which all end in -ate). Curiously enough, the P-word actually appears in an early Bible translation in the Old Testament. :shrug:

On the other hand, use of such words can scandalize some people, so they really should be avoided. On the third hand, some words which are fine on this side of the pond still have a certain power on t’other (Britons, read no further!)

Two words for the posterior, one rhyming with “rum” and one with “Danny”, while being rather innocent over here, apparently might scandalize those who speak the Queen’s English, or at the very least raise eyebrows in some and cause sniggering in others.

Have I mentioned etymology is fun? :smiley:


  • Blasphemy = sin
  • cursing (people) = sin, cursing (objects) = possible scandal
  • profanity = most likely sin
  • vulgarity = possible scandal
  • Conclusion = use better vocabulary. :thumbsup:

To the above post: :thumbsup:

Some people might post things like this examen of conscience:

II. Venial Sins

1 Have I used the name of “God” or “Christ” or “Jesus” or “Lord” as a byword, or as an expression of impatience, or in jest?
2. Have I spoken, not maliciously, but profanely and irreverently, of any holy thing?
3. Have I sworn, i.e., called upon God to witness the truth of what I was saying, when there was no serious reason for so doing, when the matter was trivial or foolish, even though I told no lie?
4. Have I used the language of cursing against inanimate things, or against animals, or against human beings even though I did not really wish the damnation of these last?
5. Have I permitted myself to acquire the habit of using God’s name profanely, or of swearing or cursing almost without realization of what I was saying?
6. Have I laughed at others’ profane use of God’s name or other irreverent speech, as if I thought it amusing and wanted them to continue?
7. Have I neglected to correct a child subject to me, when the child used irreverent or profane language?
8. Have I permitted my children to go about with companions who made frequent use of profanity?
9. Have I repeated the profanity of others as something amusing and clever?

These all refer to profanity, not vulgarity.

One good example is this: there’s nothing inherently immoral about farting, but it’s considered rude in polite company to let one rip. If you just let it rip without care for other people’s feelings or societal norms, I suspect that’s a venial sin because you’re showing a lack of regard for other people’s feelings.

You are free, however, to think that their refusal to fart in front of you or permit you to fart is silly. I use vulgarity frequently and regularly (not in inappropriate social context, like when I see patients or hang out with my grandparents - I’m not stupid), and when people my age whom I am close to tell me that they don’t want me to cuss, I usually acquiesce, but I still express my displeasure at what I view to be an inherently irrational position that people usually use to pat themselves on the back for being better or smarter than others.

Good answer. Possibly rude, and if rude, possibly sinful depending.

Ephesians 4:29…No foul language should come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for needed edification, that it may impart grace to those who hear.
Also in most examination of consciences I have there have been items pertaining to swearing

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