Tag Archives: curse word

Mustn’t say MacBeth

Context: W is a 24 year old American born in California. As a young child W performed in major roles for a few productions at a local junior theater. This audio was collected over a discord audio call. 

Intv: “So if I remember correctly you were in the lead role for a few productions at the junior theater. Can you think of any folklore that would’ve come out of that community? For example, like, saying Macbeth or something.”

W: “Well it’s funny you’d say Macbeth actually, because I remember when I was staring in Oliver, during the first couple shows, I don’t know why, but I’d keep saying Macbeth. And, like, it eventually started to really bother some people. I remember some theater kids moving away from me out of fear that I’d say it. It wasn’t until like the fourth day that the director came up to me and personally told me to stop because he had received so many complaints about it.”

Intv: “No way? Really? The director personally told you to stop?”

W: “Oh yeah, it became a huge deal to them apparently. I’m pretty sure after that I stopped saying it during any future productions.” 

Analysis: When W told me about this story I couldn’t help but chuckle slightly at the idea of the director telling a roughly 12 year old boy to stop saying MacBeth, but it also speaks volumes on the legend surrounding this curse. It wasn’t the director who heard W say it off hand and told him to stop. He had received complaints from other actors regarding their concern over the production. All over a word.

“Coño” – A word for love, hate, and everything in-between

Context: MIMI #4

My informant is an 84 year-old woman of Spanish / Cuban ethnicity. She grew up in Havana, Cuba and lived there until she had to leave due to the take over of communism at the age of 22. This story was told as an explanation of the word “coño” in the Cuban perspective. The joy in her eyes from describing one of the most important words in her language was beautiful to see. 

Dictionary Definitions: Beaver, fanny, hell, holy crap, bloody hell… etc.


“The word is used tremendously in Cuba. coño is used very much in Spain as well. It cant really be translated, it’s an expression. This is the word for the daily life of daily Cubans in Cuba. It is used in so many ways in various significant ways. Without that word, you really couldn’t express a lot of things. This is a word that carries through everything that’s happening in your life: happiness, unhappiness, fights, thoughts, sadness, anger. I.. I mean it is truly a word that carries on throughout your life. So, if you’re gonna choose one word forever and only one, I would pick that one.”

Upon hearing this story, I was trying to think of a word in the english language that encompassed as much meaning as “coño”, but I really could not think of anything as specific as this. It is a word that fluidly floats through every facet of the human experience and is used to highlight these moments of great despair, happiness, anger, or love. I am curious to know how the word grew into its universal nature, as it seems as though it would have started out with a more singular meaning.

As someone who loves words and language entirely, I find it fascinating that a single expression can be used in so many different ways, depending on sentence structure and the way that it is performed. I think the closest expression we would have in english would be “wow”, because it can be used in so many different situations.

For another reference of ways to use the word, check here:


Farsi Curse #2

Background: Lauren was born and raised in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. Her parents are both Persian Jews, and Lauren considers herself Persian as well. Lauren does not know how to write the curse in the original Farsi. The pronunciation is based on how Lauren said the phrase during our interview, keeping in mind that she is not a native Farsi speaker. Her first language was English and she also learned Hebrew growing up, and while she understands Farsi her speaking capabilities are, in her own words, limited.

Context: I called Lauren on the phone since she attends university in Florida and recorded our conversation. I have transcribed what she said over the phone below. She was sharing with me her favorite Persian curse words and phrases. She had just shared her favorite, which is published under the title “Farsi Curse #1”.

The phrase: modar genda

How it is pronounced: moh-dar jen-deh

“Another word is modar genda which means your mom is a whore or prostitute if you want to be polite. I learned this word in elementary school and I never really knew what it meant until elementary school when I asked my parents and they gave me a full definition of it. This is definitely more offensive than pedar sag (Farsi Curse #1). People use it for fun, but mostly as an insult to someone if they are bothering you. It’s not really used like just as an expletive that people might say “oh fuck” but more directed at a specific person as an insult.”