Show Summary Details

Page of

PRINTED FROM OXFORD HANDBOOKS ONLINE ( © Oxford University Press, 2018. All Rights Reserved. Under the terms of the licence agreement, an individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a title in Oxford Handbooks Online for personal use (for details see Privacy Policy and Legal Notice).

date: 24 March 2019

Abstract and Keywords

There are several areas of culture where taboo is encountered including religion and death, and recently it has become taboo to be sexist, racist, homophobic, or critical of physical or mental shortcomings. But there is one taboo area that is pervasive, and one where specific words are subject to strong taboo, and that is sexual activity and excretion, and it is this area that is the prime locus of comedy. Restrictions on language stimulate attempts to circumvent the restrictions and a lot of verbal humour involves ingenious ways of skirting around taboo words or disguising them rather than using them. Less frequently they are used for shock effect as with Eliza Doolittle’s, ‘Not bloody likely’.

Keywords: taboo word, profanity, oblique reference, wit, wordplay

Access to the complete content on Oxford Handbooks Online requires a subscription or purchase. Public users are able to search the site and view the abstracts and keywords for each book and chapter without a subscription.

Please subscribe or login to access full text content.

If you have purchased a print title that contains an access token, please see the token for information about how to register your code.

For questions on access or troubleshooting, please check our FAQs, and if you can''t find the answer there, please contact us.