Ofcom’s carefully ranked list of ‘naughty’ words is pretty hilarious

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  • Can you guess the naughtiest word of all?

    Hold onto your pearls, because Ofcom has released an official list of ‘bad’ words. What’s more, the independent regulator has even graded these words (with Deputy Headmistress-like efficiency) in order of naughtiness.

    The words are assigned into categories, ranging from ‘mild language’ all the way up to ‘strongest language’ – in between there’s medium language and strong language. Though unfortunately they haven’t added more in-between categories, such as medium-strong or mild-medium.

    Want to know how all the naughty words tally up in Ofcom’s eyes? Here’s some highlights from the official list. We’ve also included the additional notes Ofcom provided next to each word (because LOL).

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    We recommend you read these to yourself in the most school-marmish voice you can summon:

    Mild Language


    ‘Generally of little concern’


    ‘Generally of little concern, commonly viewed as a humorous insult.’


    ‘Generally of little concern. Frequently used in everyday language to express emotion when making a mistake. Seen as much stronger when used in a clearly sexual context.’


    ‘Generally of little concern.’


    ‘Generally of little concern. Typically viewed as a humorous insult, however more aggression of specific intent to hurt heightens impact.’


    ‘Generally of little concern. More unpleasant than offensive. More aggression or specific intent to hurt heightens impact.’


    ‘Generally of little concern.’

    Medium Language

    Son of a bitch

    ‘Potentially unacceptable pre-watershed.’


    ‘Potentially unacceptable pre-watershed. Vulgar or sexual use heightens impact.’

    Pissed / Pissed off

    ‘Potentially unacceptable pre-watershed. Neither meaning – drunk or angry – particularly offensive but more problematic when used aggressively or repeatedly.’


    ‘Common language used in everyday life but problematic when used aggressively or repeatedly. Concerns about children learning the word.’

    Feck / Effing

    ‘Often seen as humorous. Older participants likely to find the word unacceptable.’


    ‘Not generally offensive but somewhat vulgar when used to refer to testicles. Less problematic when used to mean “nonsense.”‘


    ‘Particularly vulgar or sexual use heightens the impact, especially for women.’*

    *we women – SUCH DELICATE FLOWERS!

    Strong language (it’s getting pretty naughty now)


    ‘Seen as vulgar by many. Less problematic when used in a humorous context, and generally considered slightly milder than “cock.”‘


    ‘Seen by some as a childish word often said in jest. More aggression or intention to hurt heightens impact.’


    ‘Seen as crude, particularly by women’**


    ‘Seen as crude and often derogatory, particularly by women.’


    ‘Seen as vulgar by many. Less problematic when used in a humorous context, and generally considered slightly milder than “cock.”‘


    ‘Seen as vulgar and distasteful by many.’


    ‘More aggression or specific intention to hurt heightens impact.’

    Beef curtains

    ‘Low recognition. Seen as vulgar and distasteful, especially by women.’


    Strongest language


    (sorry we actually had to star it out mainly because we just couldn’t)

    ‘Vulgar, derogatory and shocking for both men and women.’


    ‘Seen as very aggressive when intended to hurt or offend.’


    ‘Older participants more likely to consider the word unacceptable.’

    Here’s the full list, shared on social media by @LindseyClay:

    The full Offcom 'naughty' list

    The full Ofcom ‘naughty’ list


    One thought: Ofcom appears to think women are far more sensitive to swearwords than men. Perhaps you can test this out by trying a few from the ‘strong’ category out on your male and female friends…

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