Wartime Profanities Act

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A Wartime Poster explaining the 1940 Profanities Act

“Bally Heck and flaming wee lass of a country girl. Bar Steward, over here! Put that blooming light out or the pancake flipping Hun will see you!”

~ Concerned ARP warden

The Wartime Profanities Act, passed in the British Houses of Parliament in April 1940, was designed to ration swearing, allowing a greater number of swear words to be uttered by the armed forces. Swearing was severely rationed to one swear word an hour per person, and a set of new 'Utility' Profanities were introduced by the Ministry of Insults and Profanities to be used in place of the now rationed swear words.

Utility Swear Words[edit]

  • Bally or Blooming for Bloody
  • Heck for Hell or Bloody Hell
  • Flipper or Flipping for Fuck or Shag
  • Sugar Bear for Shit
  • Pancake Flipper for Motherfucker
  • Bar Steward, over here! for Bastard
  • Wee lass of a country girl for Cunt
  • Twit for Twat

Ration Coupons[edit]

In emergencies, extra swearwords could be purchased with ration vouchers. However, these words, which included "Egad", "gadzooks", "zounds" and so forth, tended to be so antiquated that one could say them in front of the parish vicar, rendering them less than adequate. Bollocks.

The inadequacy of the ration-voucher system led inevitably to a black market in foreign swear words, At one point, a french "Merde" reached a price of four shillings, six-pence, then a blooming sugarbear-load of money for a flipping swear-word. Many of the popular foreign swearwords increased in popularity and persisted until shortly after the war, for instance, the Spanish "Pendejo" and "Hijo de Puta," the Polish "Krowa Sledza," and the oddly hilarious Hungarian "Fiu-bol egy Kurva" all carved out respectable niches in the black market, if not into the popular lexicon.