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As with any other language, the speaker doesn't just need to learn sign language words but also words to express grief, disappointment, dissatisfaction, and anger. Yes, we're talking about swearing in sign language. Deaf people use swearing just as much as the rest of us - they're just able to do it a little more discreetly. YouTube channel Cut has helped us all join in on the fun by posting a video in which seven deaf people show how to say all of their favorite curse words in sign language, and it's so much more fun than just flipping the bird.

Some of the swear words involve pretty straightforward hand charades and probably shouldn't be acted out in public places. Other swears in sign language, however, are more subtle and could be a mistake for a variety of meanings. Finally, some involve manually spelling out the word using sign language alphabet signs, encoding the bad words completely to the untrained eye.

Learning about how to say curse words in sign language is basically the most useful piece of education you're likely to get today (unless you feel like checking out more Cut content).

Watch the video of sign language curse words below. Don't worry - we already know you're going to try them all in front of your computer screen.


Sign Language History

Sign language is a phenomenon spanning different cultures, continents, and countries; however, sign language words and the communication form itself have been mentioned since before our era in the fifth century B.C.! That’s a good while back! That said, it only became widely used in Western countries around the 17th century.  

Nowadays, one of the most well-known sign languages is the American Sign Language or ASL, which evolved from the French Sign Language and local sign languages once used in Martha’s Vineyard in the United States.

Sure, ASL isn’t the only sign language used by deaf communities worldwide. The British have their BSL, the French have their FSL, the Japanese have JSL, and Australians have their own Auslan - and that’s just to name a few! Naturally, each of these sign languages has its own specific traits, linguistic features, and unique histories, just the same as their origin countries do. 

The development and recognition of modern day sign languages can be attributed to such pioneers as Charles Michel de l'Épée in France and Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet in the United States. Both of them have played significant roles in the promotion and education of sign language.

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As of today, sign languages are recognized as fully-fledged languages with their own grammar and syntax, and they continue to empower deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals to communicate effectively within their communities.

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Profanity in Sign Language

Deaf or hard-of-hearing people use curse words just the same as others. Of course, the best way to learn curse words in sign language would be to practice with its speakers, but we bet this little guide will also pique your interest: 

  • The middle finger gesture (you know what we’re speaking of here) comes neither from ASL nor BSL or any other sign language. Although it might seem obvious that it does, its roots, in fact, stem from the ages of ancient wars in Rome. 
  • The devil horn gesture - the one so beloved by fans of heavier music - is also not from any of the sign languages! That said, it found its use among ASL curse words nowadays and can be counted as a bona fide curse word in sign language. 
  • Here’s where it gets tricky - the middle finger gesture is sometimes used as a handshape to construct a longer word or a phrase. Thus, using it might not always be as bad as you might think!
  • Lastly, not every sign language speaker wants to swear or show you how to do it in their language. Thus, every sign language has its own sign for a ‘cuss word,’ and it is often used in translations to mask the bad words and to keep the communication cultured and clean. 
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Bearing all that in mind, it is still quite fun to learn new ways to cuss. Hopefully, though, learning about cursing in sign language is just for curiosity rather than for any other purposes! 

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cyndih avatar
Cyndi H
Community Member
6 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

C********r must be a super popular word to have 3 different people show us how to sign it?

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Stille20
Community Member
6 years ago DotsCreated by potrace 1.15, written by Peter Selinger 2001-2017

I feel like that is an expression that goes through her head a lot.

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