“Knights of Columbus, that hurt!” has to be one of my favorite lines delivered by the actor Will Ferrell. It would never have occurred to me to use the name of a Catholic men’s organization as an expletive, but there it is.
One of my favorite podcasts is called The Word Nerds. The show is all about word etymologies and several months back they did an entire show on the topic of expletives. The hosts pointed out that the root meaning of the word expletive is of Latin origin, meaning “to fill out”. They commented on the fact that we tend to think of expletives simply as curse words but the real meaning can apply to so many other things. These words are really just about taking up extra space in a sentence. For example, in the sentence, “We are going to have a rollicking good time.”, there is no need for the word rollicking, but it sure does fill out the sentence well.
One of my recent goals is an attempt to replace my crude expletives with ones that are more acceptable in polite company. So I hope you will hear my attempts to create new expletives, ones that do not offend quite as much as the average, everyday cuss word. My personal favorite, and one I tried everyday to promote while living in North Carolina, was given to me by former Senator John Edwards. It really is fun to exclaim, “Son of a Mill Worker!” Try it sometime. Just like shouting, “Knights of Columbus!”, it just makes you feel good.