Discussion in 'French-English Vocabulary / Vocabulaire Français-Anglais' started by FromMarseille, May 28, 2008.
Do you see a difference between curse and cuss?
cuss isn't a verb
Cuss is a verb in AE! It is a variation in pronunciation used by some people.
Yes, both of them can be either verbs or nouns for American.
I have always had the impression that "to cuss" implies milder swearwords than "to curse" - can an AE native give a perspective on this?
"Cuss" is not often used as a verb in British English. The Collins Dictionary gives two meanings for "to cuss":
1.) (intr.) To utter obscenities or oaths.
2.) (tr.) To abuse (someone) with obscenities or oaths.
I do not use "to cuss" in either of these situations (in fact, I never use "to cuss".) For 1.), I am likely to use "to swear". For 2.), I would probably say "to curse" or, if faced with the person in question, "to swear at".
I don't know if there is a difference in degree between "curse" and "cuss" in AE, although I would say that cussing has only to do with obscenities and not calling down the wrath of God ("a plague on both your houses!"). You can definitely be quite vulgar with cussing, so I don't think it's any less strong. I think there may be regional preferences in AE, but I'm not sure about this. (I'm from the south, and cuss is probably used more frequently, along with swear.)
well, you can also be very vulgar with 'curse' lol a friend in the US (NY state, does it make a difference?) often says Im cursing ...
do you think theres a big difference?
I was only addressing the question of whether cuss is milder than curse, which I think has been established as having strong connotations.
I don't think there's a difference in most peoples' minds. They're just two different forms of the same word, I think.
The word curse is formal and the word cuss is more of a slang. For example, you would never hear a news reporter saying, "The assailant was cussing".
In terms of degree of gravity, I am not sure because I say swearing. Perhaps this is a good term to use to avoid using curse and cuss.
That's how I had always understood it. In some people's mouths, I think that using 'to cuss' is sometimes a way of avoiding to say 'curse', in the hope that the curse itself gets dampened down a bit. I'm not sure this sentence makes any sense...
to cuss was originally a southern US regionalism for to curse
In its modern usage, everyone across the US might use it colloquially, but in that vein it means more generally " dire des gros mots ", or " crisser ", as they say in Québec.
to curse can mean the same thing (but usually in to use curse-words) - or it can also have its original, more serious meaning--to condemn someone before God
In England today, "cuss" is used a lot by youths; it means to insult but it can also be used as a noun to refer to an insult someone used.
"I cussed him"
"Don't cuss me / it"
"You got any good cusses?"
It's used a lot in the MC/freestyle UK Rap circuit.
To curse simply means to swear / to use a swear word.
I hope that helps.
So its usage has evolved as it was adopted into BE
In AE to cuss is intransitive.
Otherwise you would cuss someone out or cuss at someone.
It's used as a transitive verb in BE now, yes.
Don't cuss me etc. (i.e. don't insult me / don't take the piss out of me)
Don't cuss those shoes.
"cuss" wasn't "adopted" into BE - it is in use in BE and has been for centuries, as far as I am aware. It's limited to various UK regions though. There's the fixed expression "tinker's cuss", as well.
There's some info on the curse/cuss distinction here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonological_history_of_English_low_back_vowels
Well, it is distinctly a US southern regionalism to us. Here's what our dictionaries tell us over here:
1775, Amer. Eng. dialectal, "troublesome person or animal," an alteration of curse.
Verb, meaning "to say bad words," is first recorded 1815.
Separate names with a comma.