Swear like a Roman

Facility in swearing is either an admirable or a deplorable ability, but all can agree that it is a trait with a long history. In her new book, Holy Sh*t! A Brief History of Swearing, Melissa Mohr outlines the history of the practice with emphasis on Roman times. Olga Khazan of the Atlantic has a review. PG-13.

Our terms for human genitalia come from Latin. So, too, do many of our common swear words, and while most polite socities disapprove, the practice of cursing continues. In her book, Mohr talks about "speaking with Roman plainness," a euphemism for cursing that pre-dates Christianity, and like their modern conterparts, the Latin words focused on sex and human genitalia.