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

four-letter word

Any of several short words that are considered vulgar or obscene. Dating from the first half of the 1900s, the expression applies mostly to words describing sexual or excretory functions.
See also: word
References in periodicals archive ?
I headed straight for the definition of 'four-letter word', which I discovered refers to 'any of several monosyllabic English words, referring to the sexual or excretory functions or organs of the human body, that are conventionally excluded from polite use." Now I understand.
Some people have got their knickers in a twist over the news that made-in-Liverpool film The 51st State has apparently set a new record for screen swearing - with more than 300 four-letter words in 95 minutes.
A SONG from the hit South Park movie will be banned from the Oscars bash unless the lyrics are stripped of four-letter words.
The investigators used a 3-point scale to rate the intensity of swearing, with 1 point for words invoking heaven or hell, 2 points for those describing bodily products, and 3 points for "four-letter words." All of the procedures were elective and should not have been unduly stressful, they noted (BMJ 3 19[7225]:1611, 1999).
Instead, Hoffman says, electronic blurring will cover the exposed breasts in a few scenes, and there'll be bleeping of the four-letter words but no substitution of softer euphemisms.
If the young athletes have to brush up on their four-letter words and tobacco chewing, let them learn it in the major league lockerrooms, not your lockerroom and your field.
A baby boomer, at 18 she married Gary "Chicken" Hirsh, the long-haired drummer of the 1960s rock band, Country Joe and the Fish, perhaps best remembered for entreating 400,000 attendees at Woodstock to help it spell out the king of four-letter words during a performance.
Moving up to four-letter words, the one-crash list corresponding to ?A??
Perhaps it's embarrassed that a couple of four-letter words are heard back to back, surely a first for any film backed by Uncle Walt's guardians.
From what I can gather, you can punch out short messages no longer than 140 characters which, if you need a guide, is 25 four-letter words and send them out into the world.
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."
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.