Study says swearing helps us tolerate physical pain

Study says swearing helps us tolerate physical pain

According to new research, saying this  particular swear word increases our ability to tolerate pain. 

You can probably rattle off a multitude of things that happen during the course of an average day that make you want to swear, but for the most part, you no doubt say it inside your head and go about your business.

That is, of course, until you experience physical pain. From stubbing your toe getting out of bed to slicing your finger in the kitchen, when something hurts it generally results in a knee jerk reaction of our mouths kicking into gear before our brains do, with a torrent of swear words to follow. The most popular choice word? Well, for many of us it’s the F bomb.

And if you’re nodding in agreeance, it turns out you’re on the right track.

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Keep swearing

According to new research, repeating the F word increases our ability to tolerate pain.While studies have previously found that swearing has a multitude of benefits, this is the first time they’re studied the particular words. Scientists from Keele University in the UK invented fake obscenities, like ‘twizpipe’ or ‘fouch’ and found that when people said the made up words they tolerated far less pain than they did while saying common expletives.

Instead of banging a random bunch of people’s elbows on door frames, they had 92 study participants hold their hands in an ice bath. The researchers measured their pain threshold by timing how long it took them to begin to feel pain, determined by how long they were able to keep their hands in the water.

Each participant took the challenge four times, repeating one of the test words during each trial. The order of the words was randomised (to avoid any chance that the results were skewed) and they found the F word worked best.

When participants repeated f**k, they demonstrated increases in both their pain threshold and their pain tolerance, although when they repeated ‘twizpipe’ or ‘fouch’, participants had emotional or humorous responses, but got no actual pain relief.

More research is needed, but the scientists think that obscenity alleviates pain by causing emotional arousal, while the made up words don’t.

Even still, they’re doing god’s work if it gives us a permission slip to let out a big ‘F you’ to the hair straightener next time it clips our ear.

This article originally appeared on and is published here with permission.

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