four-letter word

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four-letter word

1. One of a handful of words with four letters that are considered profanity. Jimmy was suspended from school after the teacher heard him shout a number of four-letter words at his classmates. The move received its rating solely due to its high amount of four-letter words.
2. By extension, a word that has a positive or neutral connotation but that is treated as if it were highly negative. Such words do not have to literally contain four letters. Young people today seem to think "school" is a four-letter word. All they want to do is sit around and play video games all day. To most voters, "taxes" is a four-letter word.
See also: word

four-letter word

Any of several short English words that are generally regarded as vulgar or obscene. For example, No four-letter words are permitted in this classroom. This expression is applied mostly to words describing excretory or sexual functions. [First half of 1900s]
See also: word

a ˌfour-letter ˈword

a short word that is considered rude or offensive, especially because it refers to sex or other functions of the body: Four-letter words used to be banned on radio and television.
See also: word
References in periodicals archive ?
At the 13-letter level, the constituent words would be one 4-letter word and three 3-letter words.
Tim: "If the parent things that their little angel hasn't heard a 4-letter word in the playground by age 11, they need to have a word with themselves.
With "Insomnia is a 4-Letter Word," a photographic diptych on show at "Counting Thoughts," Kahil again takes her own body as subject.
Acne: It's the dreaded 4-letter word among teenagers.
For more on the lessons and legacy of CRM's darker period, see "CRM Is No Longer a 4-Letter Word," Insight, page 14; and this month's columns Customer Centricity ["The Siebel Effect--and Its Survivors"] and The Tipping Point ["The Cautionary Tales of CRM"], on pages 8 and 10, respectively.
Based on the early literacy research of Russian psychologist Elkonin, Reading Rods feature consonants, vowels, blends, digraphs, and 2-, 3-, and 4-letter word families and may be combined, left to right, to form words, phrases, and sentences.
The L hand edge of each 12-letter word forms a 4-letter word which reads downwards.
Moreover, if I used a 6-letter word plus a 4-letter word for each row, there would be a further 7 followed by 42 zeroes of 10-squares, and so on.
The Appendix at the end of (17) shows all kinds of shifted plactic classes of 4-letter words.
Three entertaining, health-related lectures will be held in the Devens Club Room, including "Diet and Other 4-Letter Words," at 6 p.
Using the same 4 letters, spell two 4-letter words.
How many 3-letter and 4-letter words can you make using the letters in the word TEMPTATIONS?
One tantalizing possibility is that there may be a 6x6 square having a knight's tour that spells nine 4-letter words (rather than six 6-letter words).
These 4-letter words each use 2 of the 4 different functions: