About Me
The Manifesto

Previous Posts

Not to be confused with blogversary
Oh non! Le point-virgule!
Alternatively: "You got Trussed!"
Domeball fever: can you catch it?
Good Stuff: 3/28/08
Also: posh, S.O.S., news, golf, wop
Prescriptivism's Greatest Assholes vol. 1
"And talk about a preachy book! Everybody's a sinn...
,.? !
Wanted: damned lie statistics

Back to Main


My del.ic.ious site feed


Common Errors in English
Netvibes RSS Reader
Online Etymology Dictionary
Research and Documentation
The Phrase Finder
The Trouble with EM 'n EN

A Capital Idea
Arrant Pedantry
Bradshaw of the Future
Bremer Sprachblog
Dictionary Evangelist
Double-Tongued Dictionary
English, Jack
Futility Closet - Language
Language Hat
Language Log
Mighty Red Pen
Motivated Grammar
OUPblog - Lexicography
Style & Substance
The Editor's Desk
The Engine Room
Tenser, said the Tensor
Watch Yer Language
Word Spy
You Don't Say

Dan's Webpage

Website XML feed

Cluster and Mother
Tuesday, April 15, 2008   12:36 PM

I encountered a new euphemism the other day: cluster, which our bossy-boss used in a speech as a stand-in for clusterf***. The only other word like this that I can think of is mother, for motherf***.

Urban Dictionary has these clippings covered.

Pause to note that these aren't merely interrupted swears, like the mother- in the new Die Hard trailer or the holy- (for holy s***) that you see sometimes in movies or Homer Simpson's epic f- in "Who Shot Mr. Burns." You can use mother and cluster prettymuch anywhere in a sentence without adding an extra pause afterwards. (Disclaimer: Our Bold Hero is not a linguist.)

No, these are abbreviations of swear words, just like F, that ubiquitous signpost for f***.

(I suppose that suck, as in you suck or that sucks, is also similar, but those phrases leave considerably more up to the imagination. Donkeys are sometimes involved! The expression this blows works the same way — goats! — although it supposedly does not have a vulgar origin.)

In some ways mother and cluster are like minced oaths (Jebus, sugar, frak, etc.), which generally derive their meaning from their resemblance to an existing profanity. However, the connection here is stronger, because mother and cluster are also the building blocks of their dirty cousins. In mothertrucker, you've got a minced oath, but in mother it's just been chopped.

Labels: ,

Then there's this item about "clustered nuns":

I suppose the abbess would be a "clustered mother."

Why is it that when some nuns are left in darkness, they will seek out the light? Why is it that when nuns are stored in an empty space, they will group together, rather than stand alone?

Leave a Comment

Think reactive, not reactionary