Foreign News: Bad Words

In 1844, Sir Thomas Erskine May published a treatise on parliamentary procedure which has been revised at intervals ever since. It includes a list of insulting words and phrases which the Speaker has ruled unsuitable for use in House of Commons debate. Among the banned expressions: insulting dog, behaving like a jackass, cad, caddishness, scurrilous, vicious vulgar, dishonest, swine, corrupt, criminal, blether (as applied to a speech), Pecksniffian cant. Last week the fifteenth edition of "Erskine May" was published; it showed four new epithets barred since the war's end: not a damned one of you opposite, stool pigeons, cheat, bastard.


Want the full story?

Subscribe Now


Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!