‘Cuss Words' or 'Curse Words': Which is Correct?

By Amy Gilmore, updated on June 6, 2023

Do you need to know whether 'cuss words' or 'curse words' is correct? If so, you are in luck!

Here is the quick answer:

  • 'Cuss words' is a grammatically correct term for profanity. 
  • 'Curse words' is also grammatically correct and interchangeable with 'cuss words.'

However, sometimes, one term is more appropriate than the other. So, please keep reading to learn their precise meanings and when to use each!

Which is Correct, 'Cuss Words' or 'Curse Words?'

Both phrases are correct, and in most cases, you can use them instead of each other. However, there is a slight difference. You can use 'curse words' to describe profane language. However, the term is more specific to terms that curse or damn an individual.

For example:

You could describe these terms as cuss words, too. However, if you want to be technical, 'curse words' are those that curse people.

When to Use 'Cuss Words' or 'Curse Words?'

Now, let's look at when to use 'cuss words' or 'curse words.'

  • You can use 'cuss words' to describe any profanity.

For example, you could say:

That little boy has been around people saying 'cuss words' his entire life. Despite the bad influence, he is respectful and kind. 

  • 'Cuss words' can replace 'swearwords,' 'curse words,' or 'profanity.'

For example, you might hear someone say:

Using 'cuss words' makes you appear uneducated and trashy. You should eliminate profanities from your vocabulary altogether if possible. 

  • Use 'curse words' to refer to any swear language.

For example, you might hear someone say:

Have you heard the nasty mouth on that girl? Every other word that comes out is a 'curse word.'

  • Use 'curse words' when referring to phrases that damn something or someone.

For example, you could say:

I heard you saying 'curse words' to John. If I hear you tell him to go to hell or call him a fool one more time, I will ground you for a month.

Definition of 'Cuss Words': What Does 'Cuss Words' Mean?

According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, 'cuss words' is spelled 'cusswords,' and it means:

  • A derogatory term

It can also mean:

  • An abusive term
  • Swear words

Synonyms of Cuss Words

  • Curse
  • Expletive
  • Swear
  • Swearwords
  • Obscenity
  • Malediction
  • Insult
  • Bad language
  • Bad word
  • Four-letter word
  • Blaspheme
  • Damn
  • Confound
  • Imprecate
  • Rant
  • Rail
  • Damnable
  • Dang
  • Accursed
  • Durn
  • Danged
  • Berate
  • Pitiful
  • Nasty
  • Miserable
  • Vile
  • Pitiable
  • Shameful
  • Scummy
  • Punk
  • Blast
  • Irk
  • Ranted
  • Reviled
  • Cursed
  • Swore
  • Damned

Definition of 'Curse Words': What Does 'Curse Words' Mean?

The same reference book defines 'curse words' as:

  • An obscene oath against someone or something

It can also mean:

  • A curse
  • Profane language
  • A swearword

Synonyms of 'Curse Words

  • Excommunication
  • Damnation
  • Peeve
  • Perturb
  • Damnation
  • Censure
  • Ban
  • Imprecation
  • Spell
  • Malison
  • Malediction
  • Voodoo
  • Whammy
  • Jinx
  • Hoodoo
  • Hex
  • Cuss
  • Profanity
  • Affliction
  • Band
  • Snag
  • Beshrew
  • Maledict
  • Denounce
  • Maledict
  • Darn
  • Durn
  • Reprobate
  • Damn
  • Condemn
  • Persecute
  • Smite
  • Exasperate
  • Badger
  • Belittle
  • Dog
  • Stress
  • Hound
  • Harass
  • Oppress
  • Agitate
  • Frustrate
  • Irk
  • Chafe

Pronunciation: How to Pronounce 'Cuss Words' or 'Curse Words'

Next, we will review pronunciation. Understanding how to pronounce these words will help you differentiate between them and speak and write the terms more confidently.

  • The phonetic spelling of 'cuss words' is:

kūss werdz

  • Use this phonetic spelling to pronounce 'curse words':

kers werdz

Sample Sentences Using 'Cuss Words' or 'Curse Words'

Finally, read these sample sentences to see 'cuss words' or 'curse words.'

Cuss Words

  • The strict headmaster overheard the children using cuss words, so she washed their mouths out with soap. She wasn't done, though. Each child had to write 'I will not swear' 2,500 times.
  • After the cruel punishment, the children never said cuss words again. Although, they surely cursed Mrs. Knevvles.
  • The company's strict policy prevented employees from using cuss words and other offensive language in the office or in work-related written, verbal, and electronic communications.
  • The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) governs television and radio broadcasts. The FCC restricts cuss words, obscenities, and indecent content in certain programming.
  • Cuss words are not unique to English. Every language has offensive or derogatory words.
  • Why would you tell the teacher your classmates were using cuss words? That's just dry snitching!
  • I try not to use cuss words, but there are times when they just slip out.

Curse Words

  • Curse words, like the F word, are extremely versatile, which is one of the reasons people struggle to keep them out of their mouths.
  • I have not had a good morning. My boss asked me to report to his office as soon as I got into the office. One of my co-workers reported that I was using curse words at work. I swear that lady is the bane of my existence.
  • Curse words and obscenities are strictly prohibited at school-sponsored events. If you are caught using profane language, you may be suspended from extracurricular activities.
  • Those girls have been terrorizing our school since they arrived. Yesterday, the assistant principal caught them writing curse words on the bathroom stalls.
  • After school, they had to scrub the curse words off the restroom walls.
  • They have even influenced the star pupil to write curse words on desks and in our class books.
  • We started a swear jar. If someone in the house hears you say curse words, you have to deposit a dollar. At the end of the year, we will draw one family member's name, and they will get to use the money when we go on vacation.

Final Advice on the Difference Between 'Cuss Words' or 'Curse Words'

We've covered a lot of information in this guide. So, let's do a quick recap: 

  • 'Cuss words' is a term for obscenities. 
  • 'Curse words' is also a term for profanities, but it is more closely associated with cursing or damning someone or something. 
  • You can use the terms interchangeably, as they are synonyms. 

Basically, when choosing which to use between 'cuss words' or 'curse words,' you can use either.

If you want to learn the correct meanings, spellings, pronunciations, and definitions of other commonly misused English words, look at the other guides in our confusing words section. They will help to expand your vocabulary and grammar rules you can apply to similar phrases.

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Written By:
Amy Gilmore
Amy Gilmore is one of the lead freelance writers for WritingTips.org. She has been a professional writer and editor for the past eight years. She developed a love of language arts and literature in school and decided to become a professional freelance writer after a demanding career in real estate. Amy is constantly learning to become a better writer and loves sharing tips with other writers who want to do the same.

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