Swearing Provides Pain Relief, And The Best Word To Use If You Stub Your Toe Is … The F Word, According To New Research

A new nationwide study has revealed that - in line with the findings of scientific research - swearing when you hurt yourself helps numb the pain.

Almost three-quarters (64 percent) of Brits claimed that turning the air blue helps take away the pain of a minor injury - and there was no argument when it came to the word is the most effective natural analgesic.

The majority of those polled (52 percent) said that F**k was the best pain reliever, followed by S**t (50 percent), Bloody Hell (25 percent), Bollocks (23 percent) and Damn (23 percent).

Bugger (19 percent), Crap (17 percent), and Shite (16 percent) were all also used as instant pain relief by Brits, and beat the controversial C word - which only took 15 percent of the vote.

The study, by insights agency Perspectus Global, also found that the average Brit swears nine times a day - with men cursing more often than women (10 times a day compared to eight for females).

Despite the frequency of swearing, 69 percent of us agree it is a powerful thing to do, and neuroscience backs this up.

Said neuropsychologist Dr Rachel Taylor: “The science shows that when people swear, it can activate the amygdala which in turn triggers a fight-or-flight response. This then leads to a surge in adrenaline, a natural form of pain relief. Interestingly, research also suggests that conventional swear words are better at pain relief than novel ones, and also indicates that if you reserve swearing just for pain relief they are more analgesic than if you are a prolific swearer - you can become immune to the pain relief of swearing if you swear a lot.”

This is bad news for the 17 percent of Brits who admit they ‘swear like a trooper’ - and also those living in Norwich, which is the swearing capital of the UK according to the poll (20 percent of residents of the city claim to ‘swear like a trooper’.)

The study also revealed how our attitude to certain words that would have been deemed outrageously rude just a few generations ago has changed in recent years.

41 percent of us don’t consider saying Oh My God as swearing, 36 percent admit to saying Damn without a second thought, and a quarter (25 percent) of us regularly say Bugger in front of children, friends, family, and at work.

38 percent of those polled said they thought that some words that were completely unacceptable in the past are totally fine to say now, however 47 percent believe that although language evolves, there are still lots of words we should avoid saying as they are offensive.

46 percent of respondents agree that words that are racist, sexist, homophobic or bigoted in any way should always be avoided.

Said Ellie Glason, MD of Perspectus Global: “We wanted to explore how sweary we are as a nation, and it was fascinating to see that swearing as pain relief is so common, and also to find out what the most effective word to use is.

“It’s interesting to see how some words and phrases that were seen as outrageously rude in the past are now commonplace - but that there are some anglo saxon words that are as powerful now as they were 1000 years ago.”-

The study also found that 51 percent of those polled believe they swear more than their parents did, with only 26 percent saying they swear less - and 23 percent believing they swear the same amount.

While 35 percent believe that there’s so much more swearing now on TV, the media, and on social media, that it’s not seen as so offensive these days.

And more than half of us (51 percent) said that swearing is pretty much acceptable in their workplace, as long as it wasn’t said in anger.

Overall, 28 percent of Brits claim that swearing doesn’t bother them, however 26 percent said the world would be a better place if people didn’t swear so much.


F**k (52% said it was the best word to use when they hurt themselves to numb pain)

S**t (50%)

Bloody hell (25%)

Bollocks (23%)

Damn (23%)

Bugger (22%)

Crap (17%)

Shite (16%)

C**t (15%)

C**k (6%)

Research of 2000 UK-based adults conducted by Perspectus Global in March 2023

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