Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows I like a good swear. I even wrote about it on this blog. If you’ve followed me on Twitter for a while, you may remember that some months ago I decided to use my powers for good, so I created #TheDailySwear, where each day I tweeted a new compound swear word, along with how I (or a dictionary) thought it should be styled. And because I’m so kind (and because my brain is too tired at the moment to write an original blog post) I thought I’d collate all that information* here. Don’t say I never do anything for you.
The style choices below are just that, style choices. For many of them I’ve referenced a dictionary or two, but the great god Merriam-Webster is not going to come down and smite you if you want to hyphenate your batshit or close up your fuckbuddy. That sounds very wrong, sorry.
So here we are: the Kia Thomas Dictionary of Swears.
apeshit – closed, same as “batshit”.
arse over tit – open, as in “I fell arse over tit down the stairs”, but I could see it being used as a hyphenated compound adjective. Perhaps “Boris Johnson looks like some kind of arse-over-tit pigeon”?
arsewipe – closed, as in “He’s an absolute arsewipe” (translation for the non-Brits: he’s not a very nice man).
ball-ache – hyphenated. I’ve got to admit, my first thought was to close it, but “ballache” looks like something you’d find on Masterchef Professionals – “I’ve made a ballache of vension with a kumquat emulsion.”
batshit – closed, as per Merriam-Webster
bellend – closed, and I very much enjoy the use of “monumental bellend” as one of the examples on Oxford Dictionaries Online.
clusterfuck – closed. One of my favourite words, although obviously not so much of a fan of finding myself in one.
cock-block – I normally always defer to Buzzfeed’s excellent style guide, but sorry, guys, I like the hyphen here, as per Oxford Dictionaries.
cocksucker – closed. Perhaps hyphenate if you need to distinguish between someone who is fellating and someone who is not.
cockwomble – one word, as are all swearword-animal combos: “shitgibbon”, “crapweasel”, etc.
dickhead – closed. Pretty sure most people know this, but I enjoy the Oxford Dictionaries definition: “a stupid, irritating, or ridiculous man”.
douchebag – closed, as per “shitbag”. And the lesser-spotted “turdbag”.
douchecanoe – closed. Swear+inanimate object = closed compound, including “fucksticks”, “fucknugget”, “crapburger”… the possibilities are endless.
Fuck all – generally open, although a hyphen is helpful in phrases like “fuck-all else”.
fuck buddy – open. And lowercase “b” unless you’re writing some kind of disturbing Elf fanfic.
fuck off – obviously open as a phrasal verb, but it is also used as an adjective in some parts of the UK (i.e. my house), in which case hyphenate: “There’s a big fuck-off spider over there.”
fuck someone over – keep it in that order. You don’t “fuck over someone” without a harness. Or maybe levitation.
fuck up – open as a verb, and I prefer it hyphenated (“fuck-up”) as a noun (although Merriam Webster has it closed)
fuck you – all forms open according to Oxford Dictionaries, but like to to hyphenate the adjective, in a fuck-you kind of way.
fuck-a-doodle-doo – don’t forget your hyphens. Unless you’re instructing someone to fuck something called a “doodle doo”. And if you are, I’m not sure I want to know.
fuckboy – I think I might be too old and uncool to really know what one is, other than a closed compound.
Fucked-up-ness – I think I prefer to two hyphens for clarity, but my editing colleagues are split between this, “fuckedupness”, and “fucked-upness”. We can also throw “fuckedupedness” into the mix if you really want a wild time.
fuckface – closed, as are “twatface”, “buggerface”, “dickface”, “cuntface”, “bollockface”, “shitface”, “pissface”, “bastardface”, and “wankface” – all mine and my husband’s pet names for each other.
fuck-me – hyphenated as an adjective only, as in “fuck-me shoes”. Open for the exclamation/invitation.
fuckload – one word. Just like “shitload”, both singular and plural forms are used.
fuck-ton – I tend to hyphenate this, to stay consistent with my preferred styling of “shit-ton”, but I could be persuaded to leave it open. Use imperial “ton”, unless using the phrase “metric fuck-tonne”.
fuckwit – closed. Do people say this outside the UK? They should.
goddamn – closed, uncapitalised, with the “n” on the end.
goddammit – for all I like the “n” in “goddamn”, I find it looks weird in “goddamnit”. Like a goddam nit.
horseshit – closed, like “batshit” and “apeshit”. At least when used figuratively. I’d probably leave open for actual shit from an actual horse.
jack shit – open, just like its British cousin, “fuck all”.
mindfuck – closed. Trying to figure out how to style swearwords is sometimes one of these.
motherfucker – closed. Never hyphenate, unless, I suppose, you really need to emphasise that someone had sex with someone’s mum.
pisshead – closed. One of the many swears the UK has relating to drunkenness.
piss-poor – hyphenated before the noun, open after. This is a piss-poor blog post. This blog post is piss poor.
piss-up – hyphenated, as in “couldn’t organise one in a brewery”. But “Go and piss up a rope”.
prick-tease – hyphenated. Avoid using uncritically, because ugh.
rat-arsed – hyphenate for another UK drink-related term. Are we drunk too much?
shit-fit – hyphenate. Oxford Dictionaries has it open, but that makes me think of shoes that give you blisters. Those are a shit fit.
shitbag – closed for the insult, open for a bag that isn’t very good, and hyphenated for a bag in which you carry shit.
shit-eating – hyphenated, as in “a shit-eating grin”. Not used much in the UK. Perhaps we don’t grin enough.
shit-faced – hyphenated in Oxford Dictionaries, which is my preference. But the trend appears to be towards shitfaced, as per Merriam Webster.
shithead – closed, same as “dickhead”. Does people still call people shitheads? It feels very nineties to me. But then if all that velvet and faded denim can come back, maybe so can this.
shithole – one word, which you can use to describe your own hometown, but woe betide anyone else who does…
shit-hot – I’d keep this hyphenated even after the noun to avoid confusion, e.g. “I am shit-hot at swearing.”
shithouse -– one word. “Built like a brick shithouse” is a bloody marvellous phrase, but I’ve got to say this second definition in Oxford’s US dictionary is a new one on me: “(of a woman) having a very attractive figure”.
shitload – closed. Can be plural or singular: I have a shitload of work to do/I have shitloads of work to do.
shit-scared – hyphenated, even after a noun.
shitshow – closed, unless you saw a shit show.
shit-stirring – hyphenated, as in “Are you really that stupid or just shit-stirring?” If your sugar doesn’t dissolve in your tea, that might be down to shit stirring. (Joke stolen from Hugh Jackson on Twitter).
shitstorm – closed. I’m trying to decide if a “shit storm” is one that is pathetic, therefore fails at being a storm, or a strong one, that makes life shit for those who encounter it.
shit-ton – hyphenate, because otherwise it could be a ton that is shit, and “Shitton” could almost be a small English village.
son of a bitch – generally open, but go ahead and use “sonofabitch” if it feels right for the character/voice.
sweary tmesis – (inserting a word into a another word)! – Hyphenate these, such as “abso-fucking-lutely”, and sometimes it’s wise to tweak a spelling to follow pronunciation, eg “Christ all-fucking-mighty”. In words like “everything”, leave every fucking thing open.
thundercunt – closed.
twat-faced – hyphenate as a compound adjective to describe someone or something with a twatty face, but I think I’d close if being used as a synonym for “shitfaced”, or for “twatface” as a noun.
wankstain – closed. As is “jizzstain”. And I’ve never had cause to call someone a “cumstain” or a “spunkstain”, but what the hell, let’s close those too.
And that, ladies and gents, is when I ran out of swears, something I never thought would happen. Anyway, I hope it might be useful to someone somewhere, someday. Happy swearing!
*some choices here differ from the original Tweets. Because a woman can change her mind, you know.