Sabotage Times, We can't Concentrate so Why Should You?Sabotage Times, We can't Concentrate so Why Should You?

Why C*** Is The New Fuck

by Andrew Woods
29 January 2013 61 Comments

You can find it in the works of Chaucer, Burns, Shakespeare and Beckett. Joyce and Mailer weren’t averse to it, DH Lawrence positively loved it and there’s even a few in Samuel Pepys’ Diary. So, it's no surprise that c*** is making a comeback.

You can find it in the works of Chaucer, Burns, Shakespeare and Beckett. Joyce and Mailer weren’t averse to it, DH Lawrence positively loved it and there’s even a few in Samuel Pepys’ Diary. Yes, you were much more likely to happen-upon a ‘cunt’ in an English Lit class than you ever were on TV or radio during the 70s, 80s and for the lion’s share of the 90s, unless the cuss was issued in an X or 18 rated film, or by a radical free thinker head to toe in corduroy – and usually within three feet of a nodding Melvyn Bragg. It was a bad, bad word that Germaine Greer labeled “the worst name anyone can be called”.

For fans of the profane, December 6th 2010 marked something of a pyrrhic victory. Yes, Radio 4 issued two ‘cunts’ in a day – tee hee – yet, the somewhat disinterested and faintly giggly apologies Radio 4 issued over James Naughtie’s c-bomb – calling Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt ‘Jeremy Cunt’, followed up by a repeat blunder by Andrew Marr the very same day – were both amusing and yet disappointingly sad. It seemed that one of the last great taboos – the ‘n’ word aside – had finally been absorbed by the establishment. ‘Cunt’ had been exposed to a high and possible fatal level of approval

Radio 4’s c-bomb however was only the final nail in ‘cunt’s’ coffin. The groundwork had been laid in the late 90s when HBO’s depth charge into hi-spec TV grit, aligned the small screen alongside the big. The politically correct 80s were but a distant memory as the odd ‘C U Next Tuesday’ was slipped into Sopranos, Six Feet Under and even Sex & The City, which slipped one in, in a drastic bid to halt a ratings decline in 1999. The odd scripted cunt – used sparingly – heightened this new dramatic realism as TV finally caught up with what was happening outside, both matching and later overtaking cinema as a trailblazer.

However, if the late 90s were the first tentative steps of pushing ‘cunt’ into the mainstream, then the early noughties represented ‘open season’ with numerous ‘cunts’ in The Wire, Deadwood, Dexter, Weeds and Californication. When the Al Murray-fronted ‘Fact Hunt’ quiz appeared on British TV in 2005, cunt was in serious danger of finally replacing the quite frankly ubiquitous ‘brilliant white emulsion’ that ‘fuck’ had now become. In a phrase beloved of Junior Soprano, the word was but a ‘cunt’s hair’ from overexposure.

The writing was on the wall last year when Kick-Ass featured an 11-year-old girl branding a roomful of adults ‘cunts’; critics were surprised by the lack of furor from film classifiers and the public alike. Prior to Radio 4’s outburst, one of Kick-Ass’s chief financiers Jonathan Ross repeatedly ‘cunted’ during a charity dinner speech for Great Ormond St in April last year, shortly after the film’s release. The public’s reaction? Nada. All that was left was for Radio 4 to pat down the final spadeful of soil onto the walnut lid.

Cunt has certainly travelled a long way since old-worldy slang, to extreme anti-feminine venom, before finally resting into the warm slippers of acceptance. Felix Dennis first dropped a ‘c-bomb’ on British TV during a live David Frost show in 1970 and the first scripted cunt followed in 1979 in ITV Playhouse’s No Mama No. Now, however, even the BBC’s profanity-laden tourette’s documentary John’s Not Mad (1989), now seems but a relic of a bygone age.

So, if cunt is dead, then long live what…? What’s next? Are there any shocking words still taboo, yet faintly acceptable for everyone, to say? Answers on a postcard to ‘Dear Cunts in charge of Sabotage Times’…


1. Dexter

John Lithgow is a revelation playing against type as the massively unsettling Arthur Mitchell (AKA the Trinity Killer) who is often found to drop a c-bomb when he loses his cool, whether it’s aimed at himself or another. The classic Trinity outburst can be seen in the episode ‘Thanksgiving’ when he goes completely nut roast at the dinner table when his son refuses to express his ‘thankfulness’ to him. “But I am thankful for you Arthur,” says his wife in a futile gesture of placation. To which Arthur – slicing the turkey – matter-of-factly responds: ‘Shut up cunt’. It’s the lack of a pro-noun that gives it this an extra edge.

2. QED: John’s Not Mad

Not so remembered for a single utterance of cunt – the word was more or less lost in this Woodstock of swearing – the BBC’s John’s Not Mad (1989) tried to rise above the cussing to chronicle the plight of a young tourette’s sufferer. It did next to nothing to help the public empathise with victims of tourette’s, however, but it did fill more blank VHS tapes than the Royal Wedding. Available on Amazon.

3. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest

McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) and his fellow patients are discussing their planned day trip out of the hospital when the ring leader can’t help but make a slight at the domineering head nurse who constantly tries to thwart their fun. This is a fine, downplayed casual sideswipe. The offensiveness offset by cheek.

McMurphy: “Well, I don’t wanna break up a meeting or nothin’, but she’s something of a cunt, ain’t she Doc?”

4. Sex & The City

Not a classic in essence, yet more of an homage to the word’s power, this marks one of the first occasions that a water cooler show contrived to gain headlines with the c-word. However, the girl-on-girl application of the word is the least controversial of its forms.

SAMANTHA: “Chemo might even have kicked me into early menopause.”

MIRANDA: “Task accomplished.”

SAMANTHA: “You would not believe the hot flashes! I can barely keep my clothes on!”

CARRIE: “Really? What was your excuse before the chemo?”

SAMANTHA: “Oh I’m going to miss you, you cunt!”

5. Hot Fuzz

A pub scene in Shaun Of The Dead had got things rolling with a nice, blasé, “Which one of you cunts wants a drink,” but Fuzz moved things on with an under-played, virtually under-the-radar, release. When Nicholas Angel (Simon Pegg) is emotively describing the debt he owes his Uncle Derek for introducing him to police life, he wraps things up by saying that his hero eventually got busted for selling drugs to kids. “What a cunt,” says Danny Butterman (Nick Frost) almost absentmindedly in a beautifully unexpected drop.


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6. Jane Fonda

US breakfast TV (The Today Show) in 2008, and Jane Fonda is explaining why she initially turned down a role in the Vagina Monologues. Cue Alpen dropping into lap. Fonda’s deliberate utterance with not a shred of concern is glorious. Almost middle class punk.

(Host) MEREDITH VIEIRA: “… Jane. You at first were not a big fan of the play. So, what turned you around?”

JANE FONDA: “I hadn’t seen the play. I live in Georgia, OK? I was asked to do a monologue called ‘Cunt’ and I said ‘I don’t think so. I got enough problems.”

7. Curb Your Enthusiasm

Larry David’s funereal spelling error in his newspaper obituary for ‘aunt’ was funny – ‘Devoted sister, beloved cunt’ but the finest Curb ‘c-scene’ appeared in the Grand Opening. Described by David – who also equates cunt’s offensiveness with ‘prick’ in a separate episode – as the product of a largely improvised scene, this particular utterance incorporates the use of novel qualifier. Restaurant owner Larry has just fired a chef and has appointed a tourette’s sufferer as a last-minute replacement. And desperate to gloss over his new chef’s foul-mouthed outbursts Larry initiates a collective swear-off with fellow co-owners and diners, as a hilarious smoke screen. Wait for the moment when agent Jeff Green’s wife Susie inexplicably screeches to Cheryl David: ‘Fuck you, you car-wash cunt!’

8. Derek and Clive

The pair never shied away from using the c-word, in fact, you’re hard pushed to avoid it on any of their long players. Track one on Derek And Clive Come Again is simply ‘You Stupid Cunt’. Over their three albums, the pair explored just about every possible facet of the word, with its most fantastically physical application in the “Joan Crawford” skit (on Come Again) in which Clive (Peter Cook) describes his latest job as a window cleaner working within the Hollywood actress’s vagina. Derek And Clive virtually obscure the word’s potency here with such a ludicrous premise that replaces offense with complete bafflement.

CLIVE: “Up Joan Crawford’s cunt there are fucking fleets of ships, light aircraft…”

DEREK: (laughs) “Hamburger stands?”

CLIVE: “Hamburger stands. But no fucking hamburgers…”

9. Entourage

Fans of super agent Ari Gold will have the following scene scorched onto their grey matter. The motormouth’s wife is awoken by a 5.30am call from Vinnie Chase’s manager (Eric) – but Ari is already up and awake, rigorously working out on a fitness machine as his wife stirs. More odd, than crass.

ERIC: “Looks like I woke you up this time, Ari.”

ARI: “No, but you did wake my wife and kids, dickhead! Vinnie better be sitting in prison with a DUI or something. Is he?”

ERIC: “No”

ARI: “Then what the fuck do you want, cunt muscle!”

The pair finish up…

ARI’S WIFE: “Cunt muscle?”

10. The Exorcist

Regan is possessed by an ancient demon trying its darnest to upset the child’s mother. Watching your child using a bloodied crucifix as a dildo is one thing, but the devil’s taunts are a whole new ball game. In a gravelly sneer, the beast croaks: “Do you know what she did, your cunting daughter?” Used as a unsettling adjective this quote possibly represents the peak of the word’s offence.

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image descriptionCOMMENTS

stanbowles 9:36 am, 18-Dec-2010


Dan 11:47 am, 18-Dec-2010


Garry Brooke 12:39 pm, 18-Dec-2010

Good shit that. I do think 'The C Word' will remain some semblance of taboo. You've got to have something in your armoury which offends more than the rest, haven't you? Having said that, the word seems to be more prevalent these days, not that it particularly bothers me.

darren 1:24 pm, 18-Dec-2010

A long overdue look at the popularisation of 'cunt'. Of alternatively 'Cunt - where the fuck do we go now?'.

Craig 3:05 pm, 18-Dec-2010

At a Christmas party when in my early twenties, I absent mindedly called my boss "A mad cunt". She was not impressed.

John Lister 6:31 pm, 18-Dec-2010

Google Books dataset graph of how many times cunt and fuck were mentioned in books since 1500:,+fuck&year_start=1500&year_end=2000&corpus=0&smoothing=3 Modern time swearing isn't a patch on the 18th century. Amazingly the only time cunt had more mentions than fuck was 1963. I blame Lady Chatterly move than the Beatles first LP.,fuck&year_start=1960&year_end=1970&corpus=0&smoothing=3

ADC 12:47 pm, 19-Dec-2010

Curse you with cancer you cunts! There, the ultimate taboo insult. Good article.

J 6:05 pm, 19-Dec-2010

You cunts misquoted The Exorcist (twice!) AND Shaun of the Dead.

Matt 6:15 pm, 19-Dec-2010

I think Radio 4 should embrace 'cunt' fully in their schedule - 'I'm Sorry I Haven't a Cunt', 'Desert Island Cunts', 'The Cunt Quiz' etc.

Theswede 6:16 pm, 19-Dec-2010

What about blade trinity " cock juggling thunder Cunt "

Chris 6:25 pm, 19-Dec-2010

Suzy's "car-wash cunt" in Curb wasn't inexplicable. Cheryl had excused an earlier absence by saying she was stuck in a car wash, which was true, although Suzy didn't believe her. Anyway, it was magnificent.

Gerard 6:29 pm, 19-Dec-2010

It was Uncle Junior, not Tony who used the cunt hair expression. "Anthony is a cunt hair away from controlling the whole of North Jersey. And I am that cunt hair."

Juliana Marie 6:49 pm, 19-Dec-2010

Missed RuPaul's take on it for "RuPaul's Drag Race" - contestants must show Character, Uniqueness, Nerve and Talent! THAT'S MY MOTTO!

charrion 7:23 pm, 19-Dec-2010

What I love most about the word is the shear vehemence you can throw into it. There is nothing quite so cathartic when I'm driving as shouting myself nearly hoarse with a single blast of "... YOU FUCKING CUNT!" It's almost neandertholic (is that a word?).

Nez 10:01 pm, 19-Dec-2010

When you mentioned the movie Hit Fuzz, I was also hoping you were going to write about the swear jar list. Funniest thing in the movie. :-)

Bob Arthur 12:07 am, 20-Dec-2010

Let's not forget Silence of the Lambs: "I can smell your cunt" from Multiple Miggs, whom I recently discovered has had his name lent to some interesting practices on

profaner 1:00 am, 20-Dec-2010

what about the beautiful use in the movie 'Atonement'? what can beat full-screen 'cunt' in letters 3 feet high on the big screen and surrounded by such other beautiful scenery, language, cinematography? it was spectacular.

Nobby Clark 1:58 pm, 20-Dec-2010

And the classic from Harry Brown: "He's a c^nt, his dad was a c^nt, and one day he'll have c^nting kids of his own".

rudderless 2:21 pm, 20-Dec-2010

Actually cheered when I read number one of the top ten. Genuinely brilliant telly, that. The delivery is everything. The nod of acceptance from his wife afterwards is amazing, too.

Stew 3:40 pm, 20-Dec-2010

Dead Mns Shoes "You ya cunt!" Or anything by Al Swearengen

Fenton Bussy 4:05 pm, 20-Dec-2010

I fucking love saying cunt. You fucking cunting cunt!

tCC 11:39 am, 21-Dec-2010

Yes, Deadwood must have at least 5 cunts per episode.

dan lewis 12:38 am, 22-Dec-2010

the sopranos was always full of cunts (always with the accent on the 't')...but its most disturbingly said when silvio executes adriana. usually the least vicious, most empathetic of tony's thugs - and practically a father figure to adriana - his disgust at her (forced) betrayal is uncharacteristicly brutal as he bears down on her in the forest...and spits, 'come here, you cunt'.

Tewkesbury Caravan Club 11:52 am, 24-Dec-2010

Excellent read. Back in '98 I was tangentially involved in a piece of research that sought to rank expletives by offensiveness. Incredibly, people thought "cunt" more offensive than "n**gger". see, i dont feel able to spell out the latter in full. surely our new number 1 (amongst those who care about such things).

Andy 6:23 pm, 12-Feb-2011

Steve Bruce is a cunt.

Phil 11:24 am, 22-Feb-2011

I'm a member of a open group on FB, called Cuntz. A friend of mine started it, feel free to join. We all call each other cunts regularly. Childish maybe, but strangely and satisfyingly cathartic.

Monot 12:14 pm, 22-Feb-2011

Malcom Tucker: "You are a boring F, star, star, CUNT."

Phil 1:12 pm, 22-Feb-2011

No "Monty, you terrible cunt!" from Withnail and I?

Jimmy C 6:02 pm, 24-Feb-2011

Mickey Rourke in Barfly: "Your mother's cunt smells of carpet cleaner." I don't think he wasn't talking about Shake'n Vac either.

Jimmy C 6:03 pm, 24-Feb-2011

Oh, cunting hell. "I don't think he was ..."

charltonandthewheelies 8:55 pm, 4-Apr-2011

I just want to say to the FA **** your ****ing ****s right up your ****ing ****s you ****ing ****s. And I hope you all drown in buckets of ****ing ****. Cunts.

charltonandthewheelies 8:57 pm, 4-Apr-2011

btw I originally posted that on another story before finding this one. Now that is the type of star-crossed symmetry that usually happens to other jammy cunts. Not this time!

AndrewD 12:16 pm, 5-Apr-2011

Derek and Clive discussing using 'cunt kicking boots' on a wife that has destroyed a record breaking string of snot is worthy of mention.

Jon Wilde 11:55 am, 17-Sep-2011

Fine, fine piece. Nice moment during the Oz obscenity trial in 1971. Prosecuting counsel asked writer George Melly "Would you call your 10-year-old daughter a cunt?" Melly coolly replied "No, because I don't think she is." I'm particularly fond of the word "cunt" as an intensifying modifier. As in, "You're annoying me to the cunting limit." Also like "cunted." As in, "I had a few whiskies last night. In fact, I was completely cunted." It always surprised me that Tony Blackburn never noticed Mr. Vicious's "You cunt, I'm not a queer" in his version of My Way.

Jonny Kay 5:13 pm, 17-Sep-2011

Mind your bleeding own you two bob cunt. Excellent use of the word in The Libertines' 'What a Waster'.

Gareth Eoin Storey 8:48 pm, 17-Sep-2011

Cunt is a word I work into almost any conversation I've have. It's my guilty pleasure. It weeds the weak ones out. Here's a quote from the master Joyce in Ulysses: Dead: an old woman's: the grey sunken cunt of the world. Go read more you cunts.

Lia 12:50 am, 18-Sep-2011

Can we make clunge the new cunt? I know it's loved by the "writers" on here, but it's a shit cuss and sounds absolutely nasty and common. At least cunt is classless.

Andy Lewin 12:13 pm, 20-Sep-2011

My favorite use of the word 'cunt' is a part in Stewart Lee's 41st Best stand up show, taking about Richard Littlejohn's fury over the police using a nice qualifying phrase when talking about a prostitute being murdered, instead of calling them prostitutes, the police called them people that worked as prostitutes. Richard Littlejohn didn't like this and the routine goes..... And one wonders how far Richard Littlejohn would go in his quest for the accurate naming of dead women. Would he perhaps go to a cemetery? Under the cover of night, armed with a, a little chisel and a little torch. And he's there at the grave that says, "Here lies Elaine Thompson aged 19," and he's there, amending it (using his mic to simulate a chiseling sound) 'Prostitute,' (chiseling) Not a women who works as a prostitute. (chiseling) A prostitute. (Chiseling) P.S. (Chiseling) I hate women, obviously. (Chiseling) and I'm happy when the die. (Chiseling) Yours. (Chiseling) Richard LittleJohn. (Chiseling) Cunt. (Chiseling) Not someone who works as a cunt.

scooterslag 3:56 pm, 20-Nov-2011

The last true swear word- you shower of cunts!

GUNCLE 9:41 pm, 21-Nov-2011

my 2nd favourite is Ben Kingsley's multiple usage of the word `cunt` in Sexy Beast. But my No 1 favourite is aptly enough in Gangster No 1 where Malcolm McDowell goes to the gents toilets with a glass of champagne in his hand, puts the glass down on the floor by the urinal and, as he pisses, the camera pans to the glass where you can see Malcolm McDowell's piss spraying off the urinal into his glass, and when he's finished his piss he picks up the glass and puts it towards his lips and just as you think (and hope) he's going to drink it he looks straight at the camera and say's "what d'ya take me for - a cunt" .

tCC 1:34 pm, 22-Nov-2011

Yes Gangster Number One, great shout!! Not the best film but you know it's Malcolm and he's on form.

Alex 1:20 am, 27-Jan-2012

Malcolm Tucker extolling the virtues of Tucker's Law is absolutely superb. "If some cunt can fuck something up, that cunt will pick the worst possible time to fucking fuck it up, 'cause that cunt's a cunt." That quote will take pride of place on the wall when I get my corner office!

Owdtone 9:15 pm, 3-Mar-2012

I'm surprised no one has mentioned "Nil By Mouth" starring Ray Winstone and Kathy Burke. Cunt must outnumber fuck by 20 to 1. When Ray headbutts Kathy to the floor before kicking the shit out of her, he calls her a cunt with every kick.

michael 2:03 pm, 16-Apr-2012

I called someone who works for Camden Parking Solutions "a useless cunt" and was taken to court and fined £250 with £200 costs. CUNT.

Bob 3:17 pm, 16-Apr-2012

Alright' Colin?

johnnyw 3:27 pm, 16-Apr-2012

Glengarry Glenross, anyone?

Cunt 4:54 pm, 16-Apr-2012

I don't know if any cunt on here has already said it cos I can't be arsed to read it, but there's the line in The Sopranos where Paulie Walnuts tells Chris to 'Stop being so cunty'. And when Uncle junior falls over in the shower and exclaims 'Your sister's cunt' in anguish. Cunts.

Johnny Roc 5:00 pm, 16-Apr-2012

It's about time you all caught with Scotland likes , cunt was our new fuck when fuck was your new shit

fuzzyian 10:37 pm, 16-Apr-2012

Cee You Next Tuesday

Wenley Moor. 1:44 pm, 25-Apr-2012

Good shout by GUNCLE with regards to Ben Kingsley in 'Sexy Beast' - I wonder if Ghandi ever said it?!? But special mention must go to Brendan Gleeson & Ralph Fiennes in 'In Bruges' when discussing Harry's "cunt facking kids". Cuntitude of the highest order!!!

Stefford 8:18 am, 23-May-2012


Victoria 3:24 am, 16-Nov-2012 Check my dub over page. I have used more cunt than any of you compare to any bad films that used it in history. I use it no less often used than they did on my cartoon dub overs. I managed to knock out an extreme staggering 4,926 cunts throughout around 25 dub over episodes within a course of around 4 years altogether. That's around the first quarter of my dub over series done so far yet to date. Check out my first cartoon dub over which started it all. It's called Care Bears Gift of Caring. It's got a whopping 104 uses of cunt throughout my first dub over ever almost 4 years ago. Just typed in a Google search to prove that I'm right. Type in Care Bears NC-17 rated dub overs and you will get your answer how I started to do it. My first dub over is about 11 minutes long and has a hefty 9.4 cunts per minute. No movie and other forms of bad entertainment have breaking a record like this. I would hope to break the Guinness World Record for the most swearing and cunts in a movie ever. See proof for yourself. This is not a joke.

DC 5:43 pm, 29-Nov-2012

Where I live in Ireland it is over used really but still quite delights me. My tyre blew and the mechanic said "The fucking cunting cunt is fucking fucked the cunt". Love it. My favourite word is the more elegant "cuntish" as in "Its a cuntish day out there" or the descriptive "cunting" when you mention someone with disdain e.g. Joe Cunting Bloggs xx

ML 2:26 pm, 4-Dec-2012

My favourite TV use of Cunt is from Eastbound & Down - "There's no 'i' in team but theres a 'u' cunt"

Ali Mac 10:39 pm, 29-Jan-2013

Begbe in Trainspotting? 'I always said some day that cunt was gonna fuck some cunt'. A man not to be trifled with..

Tom 3:17 pm, 31-Jan-2013

Anyone ever hear of cunthook, my uncle used it a lot when I was younger.

JC 6:21 pm, 1-Feb-2013

In Bruges. Without a doubt. The scene in evening in the cafe drinking coffee. Is a link permitted?

Alex 3:17 am, 2-Feb-2013

make me a cup of tea you cunt here you go alex thanks mam

Bull 5:08 am, 5-Feb-2013

A personal favourite of Sir Bradley Wiggins

Nikki 11:46 pm, 14-Feb-2013

The phrase "you loopy cunt" in Deadwood (from the aptly named Swearengen, to a whore, I think) still makes me giggle. Me and hubby used to make bets before the programme started about how quick the first sweary would be said and what it would be. Most unlikely use: my dad "that Buddhist cunt" in regard to his neighbour. It wasn't meant as an insult. My dad was Glasweigan, he called everyone a cunt regardless.

Stan Dalglish 7:39 pm, 21-Feb-2013

I use this word all the time and would be lost of it. For example: You've made a right cunt of that - I say old pal, you messed up there. You pack of cunts - Steady on lads,a bit out of order. I have got a head like a cunt - overdid it last night on the WB. Grab us a coffee. Oh, I forget, it's Weds night. It's Cunt Club - Nigel plays Badminton on Weds. Look at that Cunt? - General question aimed at someone on TV.

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