Is ‘bloody’ a swear word….?

Sorry I do have some highly theological stuff to write after all my holiday reading, but this came up last night and I have to write about it!

Bloody is the adjectival form of blood but may also be used as an expletive attributive (intensifier) in Australia, Britain, Ireland, Canada, Singapore, South Africa (in the form of bladdy or blerrie), New Zealand, India, Pakistan, Anglophone Caribbean and Sri Lanka. Nowadays it is considered (by most of the population of these countries) to be a very mild expletive, and unlikely to cause offence in most circles,[1] with the exception of the most severe critics.
When I had my renewal of faith I stopped swearing overnight. It was not a conscious decision. In fact it was only when a friend pointed out that I wasn’t swearing that I realised I had stopped. And I did use to swear rather a lot. (A time spent in a restoration project with various builders was probably the initial cause!) Obviously I fall occasionally, when I am really angry or when I am very tired. But one word I do seem to use is ‘bloody’. A Christian friend called me on it recently saying it originated from a reference to Jesus’ blood, which did make me think.

So what constitutes swearing and what is acceptable? Because actually any word used in a particular way, can be a swear word. When we are cross, angry or want to emphasise a point any word can be used to do that, if it is said in the right tone. And many people use replacement words such as ‘frickin’ instead of the other F word, or Geez instead of Jesus. So what is acceptable? Is it that words which have offensive meaning behind them, or which might cause offense are unacceptable? Because to me saying ‘frickin’ is almost as bad as the original because you are just replacing one offensive word with something slightly different, but saying it with exactly the same intention.

Wikipedia shows various references for the origins of the word ‘bloody’ as a swear word, including a derivation of ‘By my Lady’ referring to the Virgin Mary; or “bloody drunk” meaning “fired up and ready for a fight, and in references to the war of the roses, ‘of the blood’.

The thing is, that nowadays many swear words have just become words in the english language, in some circles the F- word being used as punctuation and thrown into sentences wherever and whenever. In this case it seems to have lost all it’s impact and perhaps to those in those circles it is not offensive at all. To an outsider though it still has a sting.

The thing that really gets me is when people swear using the Lords name. It practically makes me wince! And the use of OMG seems common place too. I was very pleased to hear a teacher at my sons school being brought up for saying ‘Oh My God’ and the Head reminding him it is a Church school and so we say ‘Oh My Gosh’ instead! Again I think this is a case of  the phrase becoming a normal figure of speech. When people say ‘Oh My God’ they are not deliberatley causing offense to God, it is just a figure of speech. So where do we draw the line?

Personally I use ‘bloody’ as I find it a good emphasis point when necessary (I don’t use it all the time!), but if I’m totally honest, I do feel cross with myself for using it.

So… is ‘bloody’ a swear word?

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  • Reply
    Nancy Wallace
    September 5, 2011 at 5:27 pm

    Is 'bloody' a swear word? It depends on context. When used as an adjective to describe something stained or covered in blood, it isn't. In any other context it is, because it's a shortening for 'the blood of our Lord' so to me is equivalent to taking the Lord's name in vain.

    • Reply
      Gilbern invader
      April 20, 2018 at 9:25 am

      It is nothing to do with the blood of Christ. This us a comparatively recent suggestion and experts are highly sceptical of it. You need to check out the origin of the word.

  • Reply
    September 6, 2011 at 8:30 am

    There is a difference between blaspheming and using words related to human taboo subjects. Jesus was very insistent that we do not take the Lord's name in vain, but he never said we couldn't say "shit." In fact, swearing, in the Biblical sense, involves invoking something or someone to give credence to a statement. So, "by all that is sacred" is swearing whilst screaming "Jesus Christ!" if you drop something heavy on your foot, technically isn't. But it would be taking the Lord's name in vain. As for taboo words like "shit" and "fuck," they are just words and the sin involved in using them is dependent on the situation in which they are used. If you swear in front of a person who genuinely finds such language sinful then you would be causing an offence which would not be inline with your Christian beliefs. But simply using such words is not in itself sinful.

  • Reply
    September 7, 2011 at 9:07 pm

    I loved seeing the title of this post in my reader, there should be more blog posts like this one 🙂

    I think common sense might have to prevail here. Of course it is a swearword, just not as bad as the ones which that rude MadPriest uses. Our children could tell us as much.

  • Reply
    September 8, 2011 at 9:23 pm

    It is a difficult one – how far swearing is offensive. What is highly offensive to one individual may mean very little to another. I am not often offended by bad language, I just don't really like to hear a lot of it!

    "OMG" doesn't bother me too much, but I do cringe if people say "Christ" as a swear word! I temper my reaction by thinking that they aren't intending offence, it is just another word to them – although that in itself could be a source of pain/ discomfort to a Christian.

  • Reply
    September 9, 2011 at 6:50 am

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  • Reply
    September 11, 2011 at 1:44 pm

    thanks all. MP I think after that I may get a load of spam my way 😉
    but I take your point entirely. and thanks FishHawk will check out your site.

  • Reply
    November 30, 2011 at 3:40 am

    "OMG" could just as easily stand for "Oh my goodness", or "Oh my gracious!". And personally I don't think "bloody" is a cuss word because one possible etymology takes it from a Dutch word "Bloote". Wiki: "It has also been surmised that "bloody" is related to the Dutch bloote, 'in the adverbial sense of entire, complete, pure, naked, that we have transformed into bloody, in the consequently absurd phrases of bloody good, bloody bad, bloody thief, bloody angry, &c, where it simply implies completely, entirely, purely, very, truly, and has no relation to either blood or murder, except by corruption of the word.' "

  • Reply
    September 29, 2013 at 12:07 am

    Bloody is a swear word, you're using the right side of your brain to process it.

    The left hemisphere of the brain is in charge of language, while the right hemisphere is responsible for emotion. Language processing is a "higher" brain function, while processing emotion is a "lower" or more instinctive brain function. MRI brain scans have shown that swearing tends to affect the "lower" brain regions. The brain does not need the left hemisphere's help when processing "swear words". Instead it relies on the limbic system (which controls memory, emotion, and behavior), and the basal ganglia (which controls motor functions and impulse control) to process the "swear words." This is why people are able to swear automatically, without thinking about what they are saying. Evil or corrupt speech including various forms of swearing is just a result of evil or corrupt thoughts.

    Mark 7
    20 And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man.
    21 For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders,
    22 Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness:
    23 All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.

  • Reply
    October 28, 2013 at 12:52 pm

    Hi, in answer to your question, no, I don't believe it is swearing.

    This link clarifies the etymology of it:


  • Reply
    Ryan Wall
    September 21, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    I think that swears and any words you use should build people up. When Jesus sweared , he called people “snakes”, “a brood of vipers”, and even “get behind me Satan”. He used offensive words to build people up as it showed them that they were being used as pawns by Satan and to highlight that their position should be corrected. And yes, these words were probably considered very offensive (and so were probably considered swear words) especially by those who knew the scripture. They would know that Satan used the snake as a pawn for his own ends at the beginning in the garden, so the meaning behind Jesus’s swears were not lost on them.

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