THE BLOG

WTF: Tips On How to Swear Well

04/23/2014 12:38 EDT | Updated 06/23/2014 05:59 EDT
Nana Kofi Acquah via Getty Images

What was Masai Ujiri thinking when he dropped the F-bomb in a fan-rallying Raptors event last Saturday?

Kinda inappropriate for a top-tier executive, even if you are a general manager of a professional sports team.

Then again, he's not the only one with a foul mouth. Sandra Bullock likewise spouted a "What the f--k" at the recent Critic's Choice Awards, while the do-no-wrong Jennifer Lawrence likewise let fly the F-word at the SAGs, although she did wait to get to the press room before letting it rip.

"WTF": It's such a common acronym in today's social media parlance. Maybe, we wonder, even more than the ubiquitous LOL.

Which got me thinking about swearing. Kids swearing -- to each other, on the bus, to their parents. And adults swearing -- in professional meetings, in chi-chi boutiques, in places where you'd least expect it.

During a recent browse in a certain elegant downtown New York perfume emporium, I experienced an encounter with a chatty young man-about-town who felt it was absolutely okay to tell me about someone who he described with the C-word (used adjectivally to be nouveau about it).

My husband was also recently flying Toronto to Ottawa and sitting across from two well-dressed, 20-something young women whose conversation was richly laced with choice swear words. It made them seem so unsophisticated, so uneducated, so unattractive -- despite the good grooming, designer clothes and expensive purses, he said.

All leads me to this week's Things To Tell My Daughter column Volume 3. Perhaps with all of this profanity in our public spaces, it would be way cooler to not swear it all -- or perhaps swear better.

Because, I admit, I swear. Probably more than my husband. Actually, yes, more than my husband. But I do maintain, there's a time and a place for everything, swearing included. But if you don't swear well -- at the right time, in the right place, to the right crowd -- you just sound, well, uneducated and déclassé.

So, a few pointers on the topic:

Don't swear at someone. There's nothing more coarse and cringe-worthy. Use your vocabulary. Tell someone exactly, with the right words, why they deserve your wrath. It can be so much more effective than dishing an expletive.

In the end, when you're remembering back to the confrontation, you will be so much happier had you bit your tongue or used a killer descriptor that would have made Webster (and your mother) proud.

Swearing about something is different. And can be so satisfying. But try to reign it it. One choice swear is far better than a string of profane sentences. You just sound out of control. Take a deep breath. (Unless of course you're alone. If a tree falls in the forest, after all.)

Choose your audience well. At my house, we have dubbed the last day of the work week "Inappropriate Friday." On this day, as my hubby and I unwind during cocktail hour with a Caesar and a martini respectively, we chat about the week with our babes. We hang out, enjoy each other's company and declare our house "the cone of silence." In that safe zone, anything can be said. Anything can be asked. Any story told. My 9-year-old daughter and my 12-year-old son can lay out the frustrations of the week. Case in point: A couple of weeks ago, my daughter sat on the back of the sofa, relaxed, chilling out. We mentioned that she'd had a rough week, but TGIF: There'd been a bad fall while rollerskating and a subsequent trip to the hospital's emergency department, an aching tummy that persisted for several days, and an argument with the current BFF. She looked up, the beautiful face of a sweet child and deadpanned, "Oh f--k."

I laughed. Couldn't help myself. It was perfect delivery. Which leads me to my next swearing how-to pointer.

Be respectful. Sounds like a contradiction in terms, but really it's not. Know when and where it's okay to swear. Swear with your besties, your buddies and your inner circle, but generally speaking, don't swear at school or at work. It's not okay to swear so loudly that everyone around you can hear you. And it's a pretty safe bet that your teacher, boss or elders don't need to hear you swear, especially if you're vying for any coveted position, be it on the school council or at the office.

Don't think you sound cool when you swear. You might, but you likely won't. And it's a big risk. (Maybe one with a $25,000 price tag.) You'd sound way cooler using other words better.

So as with all things one wishes to excel at, take a moment and evaluate. Don't fly off and over indulge.

In the interest of swearing well, let intuition be your guide. Use common sense. And remember, whether you're the impassioned manager of a professional sports team or a precocious nine year old, less is more.

MORE ON HUFFPOST:

On-Air Swearing