Questions: Cussing

My last English Lesson on How to Cuss has gotten a lot of feedback, and I can’t say I’m surprised! I received a very interesting question from Daro Galicia that I thought I could better answer in a post rather than just a Facebook reply.

Just a reminder: there’s a lot of profanity here that’s NSFW.

Daro Question

1. How can “I’m the shit” mean “I’m the best”?

This can be confusing because most of the time shit has a negative connotation. For example: bullshit (lies), piece of shit (worthless), dipshit (stupid idiot), etc.

You need to remember language is a living thing, and it changes all the time. People re-define words and add new meaning. That’s how we get new slang. In fact, you could probably make up some new slang now. Just have it start off as an inside joke among your friends and spread from there.

Have you ever heard a girl call her other friends “bitches” in a loving way? Before, people usually used “bitch” as an insult to women. Now, women have taken that word and removed its power to hurt. Instead of being an insult, now they’re trying to use it in an endearing way.

I don’t necessarily agree with that logic, but like I said, I don’t recommend cussing in general.

“I’m the shit” is using the same type of approach.

  • You’re trying to insult me by thinking I’m shit?
  • Fuck you! I’m awesome!
  • No wait, I’m even better!
  • I’m the shit!
  • Muahahaha– see what I did there?!

2. Are “fuckface” and “shitface” common insults?

I don’t doubt there are some people who talk this way, but these are both pretty aggressive words. I don’t think you’ll see them in real life as much as you do in movies and TV.

While you brought it up, let’s go over the reasoning behind these words.

First, we can look at “fuckface” in two different ways. You can think of the aggression as “I hate your fuckin’ face” or “I’m going to fuck up your face”. In the second version, we’re using “fuck up” as a verb to mean “mess up” or “beat up”.

Next, “shitface” is a lot more simple. We know “shit” ain’t pretty– and we’re saying the person’s face is so ugly, it’s like a piece of shit.

Note, “shitface” is not often used as an insult. It’s way more commonly seen in the phrasing of “let’s get shitfaced”, meaning “let’s drink so much that we definitely get hangovers”.

Thanks again to Daro for his questions. If any other readers have something to ask, or if you’re interested in booking an online English lesson, send an e-mail my way at letstalk[at]

Capuchin Covering Mouth Photo by Eric Kilby used under the Creative Commons License (Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic)

Published by Jon Dao

Formerly, the Conversation Coach

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