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 ?
It would appear Mr Fry does not so much as pass wind (fill in your own four-letter word there for easy reference) without tweeting about it.
I for one would wish for our educated screenwriters to offer a better image of a well-learned writer and give our young people some worthwhile stories, not just scripts stuffed with four-letter words.
Tennis legend Martina Navratilova and former top cop Brian Paddick opted for some choice four-letter words to describe his antics.
Well yes, these young men at an army-style boot camp had criminal records as long as their thieving arms, but is that any excuse for their torturers, "all army sergeants and corporals", to scream four-letter words in their faces?
Back then, most people had a wider command of useful adjectives than they do today, and certain four-letter words, now heard on every street corner, were confined to Army barracks.
At Casey's Tavern, a rare outpost of good manners in Canoga Park, patrons know better than to let four-letter words slip into their conversations.
Who peppered his work with sexual references and four-letter words and actually pioneered such practices on Broadway.
Have we reached a stage where four-letter words are no longer obscene but just an ordinary part of everyday language?
Percy Murphy's fellow councillors in Neyland were so shocked by the book's explicit sex romps and four-letter words on every page that they are refusing to read it.
Mr John Bonnell has been suspended by Macomb Community College in Michigan for three days next week for using four-letter words and other graphic language in his classes.
Our statement doesn't mention snow, I don't like using four-letter words," he quipped.
Find a solution made up of only four-letter words, and then a solution made up of only five-letter words, and finally a solution made up of only six-letter words.
The Live Aid legend made sure his speech, given to Square Mile workers at the five-star Dorchester Hotel to raise money for the StratREAL Foundation, was peppered with foul four-letter words.
Starting from 1, fill in the grid in a clockwise direction with four-letter words or names.
I agree fully with his condemnation of the use of the four-letter words.