Is Crap a Bad Word?

Is Crap a Bad Word?

Crap is a word that most people have likely uttered at some point in their lives. Perhaps you’ve stubbed your toe and let out a loud “Crap!” or maybe you’ve exclaimed “This is crap!” after receiving disappointing news. While the word itself refers to literal feces or rubbish, its usage as an exclamation or adjective has become commonplace in informal settings. However, there is still debate about is crap a bad word, especially in certain contexts. In this article, we’ll take a deep dive into the history and usage of crap, examine perspectives on it being good or bad, and provide some guidance on when it’s appropriate or inappropriate to use this word.

A Brief History of Crap

The word crap dates back to the 1700s, originating from the Dutch word “krappen,” meaning waste or residue. It referred to chaff and other byproducts leftover from processing materials like flax or wool. By the 1800s, crap had evolved to also mean feces or excrement. This usage came from a different possible origin – the old English word “crap” or “crop,” referring to grain or other foodstuffs. Since feces also contain waste material from food, crap became associated with this meaning.

The word crap wasn’t considered vulgar initially. In fact, there are records of the word appearing in newspapers in the early 1900s without issue. However, as bodily functions and excrement became more taboo subjects in polite society, the usage of crap as a synonym for feces or poop started to be seen as distasteful. By the mid-1900s, many parents scolded children for saying crap. As an interjection without literal meaning, though, crap has become more normalized. Exclaiming “Crap!” after a mishap is common, though still informal.

Is Crap Considered Profanity?

Is Crap Considered Profanity?

Whether or not crap is viewed as profanity depends greatly on the context. When used literally to refer to feces or rubbish, crap is not usually considered inherently vulgar. However, some more sensitive listeners may still find even literal crap distasteful. As an exclamation, crap occupies a gray area. Many people are not offended by hearing “Crap!” or using it themselves casually, but others consider it profane.

Here are some perspectives on crap as profanity:

  • Crap is vulgar since it alludes to feces – There is an understandable viewpoint that crap should be avoided since it directly references bathroom waste. Some parents strictly prohibit their children from saying crap to discourage potty talk.
  • Crap is no worse than dang or shoot – The counterargument is that euphemistic exclamations like “dang!” or “shoot!” mean virtually the same thing as crap in context, so banning crap seems excessive. An exasperated “Crap!” after a mishap doesn’t literally refer to poop.
  • Crap is vulgar in certain contexts – Schools, work meetings, and formal settings often prohibit the use of crap, even as an interjection, because it is seen as unprofessional compared to darn or drat. But in casual situations among family or friends, most people allow crap without issue.
  • Crap is only bad if meant to offend – Since crap has multiple meanings, some argue intent matters most. Crap used harmlessly as a surprised exclamation is very different than directing crap aggressively at another person.

Overall, whether crap is considered a true vulgar profanity depends greatly on the situation and audience. The word has certainly gained more acceptance in informal contexts, but remains taboo in formal ones.

Who Considers Crap a Bad Word?

Certain groups are more inclined to prohibit the usage of crap or consider it clearly profane:

Parents of Young Children

Many parents institute a no crap policy for their children, especially those under 10 years old. They view potty language as inappropriate for young kids and worry that allowing crap will open the door to worse words. Children may also repeat crap at school, exposing them to potential discipline.

Schools and Education Settings

Schools, teachers, and childcare providers typically bar students from saying crap and other potty words. These words are seen as disruptive, disrespectful, or detrimental to maintaining a respectful learning environment. Many schools include crap on lists of explicit words prohibited in classrooms, halls, and school grounds.

Certain Workplaces

Many traditional corporate environments and offices prohibit employees from saying crap, even casually, as part of standards of professionalism. Crap may be seen as too informal, vulgar, or unprofessional for proper business communication. More casual work cultures may be more lenient with casual crap interjections though.

Conservative Groups

Individuals or organizations with more conservative values regarding etiquette, manners, and decorum may forbid crap entirely as improper language. This includes certain ethnic and religious groups that have strong cultural taboos around topics like bathroom functions.

Older Generations

Older individuals who grew up with stricter standards around swear words and taboo topics tend to be more likely to consider crap a clearly vulgar term that should be avoided. Younger generations have grown up with more relaxed attitudes toward minor potty words.

While tolerance depends on the individual, these groups provide a general guide for settings and audiences where it’s safest to avoid any usage of crap. However, even for more conservative groups, there is often acceptance that an occasional surprised “Crap!” is not the end of the world.

When is it OK to Say Crap?

Assuming you don’t absolutely forbid crap in your vocabulary, here are some guidelines for when usage may be acceptable:

In Private With Close Friends/Family

With very close ties who you know won’t be offended, casual crap interjections in private conversations are usually fine. Just be aware that standards can differ even among close companions.

Watch Your Volume in Public

If letting out an exasperated crap reaction in public, be mindful of volume. A loud “Crap!” may attract unwanted negative attention, especially around children.quieter “crap” is less likely to offend passersby.

Fun Social Situations

At relaxed social gatherings among peers where moderate drinking is occurring, some playful crap utterances are unlikely to raise eyebrows. Still exercise judgment though.

Online in Certain Settings

In anonymous online forums, chat rooms, or video game chats where profanity is already common, crap is less taboo since audiences have looser standards. But on social media tied to your name, avoid crap.

As Literally Meaning Waste/Excrement

When crap clearly refers to literal feces, rubbish, or junk in an appropriate context, it is more acceptable than as a random interjection. But know your audience, as the literal meaning still offends some.

When You Really Hurt Yourself

Crap may slip out involuntarily if you experience sudden pain. People are forgiving of impulsive minor swears in response to stepping on a tack or slamming a finger in a door. Just try to contain yourself once the initial shock passes.

In summary, close ties in private, anonymous online settings, and pained reactions are situations where most will excuse an impromptu crap. But exercise caution and aim to avoid crap in formal public settings and around those you aren’t sure will approve.

When Is Crap Not Acceptable?

There are certainly settings and audiences where it’s advisable to abstain from crap completely:

Around Children

Even if you allow crap for yourself, avoid it around young kids who may imitate the language. Parents and teachers will not appreciate a child learning crap from you.

At Work

Assume crap should be avoided at traditional offices and business events, even casually. Wait until you’re off the clock with work friends before risking a crap.

Around Elders

Crap remains offensive to many older individuals. It’s respectful and safest to refrain from crap around seniors unless you confirm they are comfortable with it.

In Formal Occasions

At formal events like weddings, religious services, graduation ceremonies, or fancy fundraisers, crap should be avoided entirely, even as an instinctual reaction. Stick to cleaner exclamations like “shoot!” instead.

Toward Strangers

Never direct crap toward random strangers or service workers. At best, they’ll be taken aback. And aggressive use of crap can seem threatening.

In Front of Authority Figures

Bosses, professors, coaches, and other authority figures will likely consider crap unprofessional and inappropriate. Don’t risk punishment or reprimands.

In Other Cultures/Countries

When abroad, avoid crap and other questionable language. Standards for profanity vary greatly, so crap may not go over well in certain regions even if tolerated in your own culture.

To summarize, it’s smart to eliminate crap completely from your vocabulary in any situation involving children, professional settings, seniors, formal events, strangers, authority figures, and foreign cultures you aren’t familiar with. The consequences for an inadvertent crap likely outweigh any benefits.

Alternatives to Saying Crap

If aiming to cut down on casual crap utterances, here are some solid clean alternatives:

  • Shoot – This euphemistic replacement packs a similar punch to crap while being safe for all audiences. Popular for a reason!
  • Darn it – Darn is an old-fashioned but inoffensive swear substitute. Pairing it with “it” amplifies the feeling.
  • Fiddlesticks – An antiquated mild oath, perfect for those wanting a quaint alternative to stronger language.
  • Drat – Another dated but acceptable option. Drat captures the sentiment without vulgarity.
  • Oh Dear – Instead of a swear word substitute, you can go with a benign interjection like “Oh dear!”
  • Dag nab it – An unusual choice but the nonsense phrase dag nab it avoids profanity.
  • Son of a biscuit – Fun silly alternatives like this maintain your expressiveness without questionable words.
  • Forget it! – Simply expressing your irritation through phrases like “Forget it!” or “No way!” works too.

With so many options like darn, fiddlesticks, and son of a biscuit, there’s no need to resort to crap if you’re trying to curb profanity. Find the alternatives that feel most natural to you.

Should You Ever Swear Around Your Kids?

For parents, a common dilemma is whether allowing occasional minor swears like crap teaches kids how to responsibly handle language or just encourages more profanity. Here are some things to consider if you sometimes swear in front of your children:

  • Explain there is adult language and kid language – Teach them words like crap are grownup words not to be repeated at school.
  • Don’t overreact if repeated – Gently correct with an explanation if they copy you, without shaming.
  • Be mindful of tone – Don’t use crap in anger toward your child. Pleasant tones minimize impact.
  • Limit exposure – Try not to frequently overswear around kids or let it become a habit.
  • Watch reactions – If a child seems uncomfortable hearing crap, talk privately and agree to avoid.
  • Consider child age/maturity – More leniency may be okay for teens versus young elementary school kids.
  • Set expectations – Remind kids that certain language is only appropriate for adults in private.
  • Be a role model – Ultimately you’re shaping the language they’ll find acceptable.

While occasional infractions probably won’t scar a child, it’s smart to largely model the language you find appropriate for kids. Use slip-ups as teachable moments but minimize foul language around impressionable ears.

Crap in Popular Culture and Media

Since attitudes around taboo words change over time, representations of crap in entertainment and pop culture offer an interesting case study. As cultural standards have relaxed regarding profanity, uses of crap have become more common in media like television, books, and music:


  • Crap usage in TV arose by the 1970s in shows like All in the Family but was still edgy. Now even basic cable networks permit “crap.”
  • Usage in PG-13 movies increased through the 1990s. A character might now exclaim “This is such crap!” without pushing the rating to R.
  • Reality TV is a frequent crap hotspot. The informal tone makes constant crap utterances from reality stars unsurprising.
  • Children’s shows still avoid crap except for maybe a “Holy crap!” in a PG family movie. But those instances often spark controversy.


  • Books by the mid-20th century started incorporating minor profanity like crap, especially in dialogue. A 1955 New York court ruling even defended such usage as realistic in literature.
  • Genre fiction allows more creative freedom for crap. Sci-fi, fantasy, and mystery novels might have characters curse in crap without backlash.
  • In YA fiction, crap appears at times to reflect how real teens talk. But schools still ban books with too much objectionable language.
  • Romance novels feature crap on occasion. Some see a well-placed “crap” as allowing steamier passion than cliched “fiddlesticks.”


  • Crap first appeared in popular music by the 1960s as taboos around profanity in performances began loosening.
  • Punk rock and other rebellious genres use crap casually in lyrics and on stage as part of their IDGAF attitude.
  • In rap and hip hop, crap is overshadowed by stronger profanity but may be sprinkled in songs to reinforce a grimy or edgy vibe.
  • Pop and country hits are more careful about swears. Crap may make it into a lyric but often as “Ah, crap!” to mitigate impact.

So while not the most pervasive profanity, usages of crap across television, literature, and music illustrate evolving cultural comfort levels with swearing over recent decades. Its growth in prominence and acceptance in creative works has shifted perspectives on if the word is truly that risque or not after all.

Crap in Marketing and Advertising

One arena where crap is still largely taboo is commercial advertising due to fears of backlash. Marketing professionals weigh several factors when considering profanity like crap in ad campaigns:

  • Product fit – Certain brands like alcohol or energy drinks may consider crap worth the risk but family brands avoid it.
  • Audience – Ads targeting youth or conservative regions proceed very cautiously with language.
  • Social context – Social media ads allow more profanity than primetime TV spots.
  • Humor/irony – If used in a cheeky irreverent way, minor swears may not offend. But it’s a gamble.
  • Desensitization – Repeat usage across ads can normalize profanity over time.
  • Virality – Provocative language can fuel shares and engagement online, but also criticism.
  • Consumer fatigue – Research shows ambivalence toward profane ads, so brands are careful to not overdo it.

Most advertisers play it safe, fearing crap and other profanity will alienate customers or damage their reputation. But as social media and youth marketing grow, taboo language in branding faces evolving standards. Overall, though, marketers remain hesitant to lace corporate messaging and mass advertising with utterances of crap.

Regional Attitudes Toward Crap in the U.S.

Standards regarding crap as profanity vary somewhat by region within the United States based on local cultural norms:

Northeast – The overall progressive lean of the Northeast correlates with more permissible attitudes toward crap, especially in urban centers. The Catholic influence may add some lingering conservatism in parts of New England.

West Coast – On the West Coast, crap is generally seen as a very minor profanity, especially in large cities like L.A. and Seattle. The casual vibe and urbanization decreases sensitivity.

South – The traditionally conservative South is more prone to considering crap a vulgarity that should be avoided, particularly in rural Bible Belt communities. Standards are relaxing among younger urbanites though.

Midwest – Like the South, theHeartland has maintained more traditional standards around language taboos. But even here, crap is losing its shock value with younger generations.

Southwest – With its mix of cultures, the Southwest contains contradictions. In some areas, crap raises eyebrows while in others it passes casually. Context matters greatly.

Region alone doesn’t determine attitudes as individual backgrounds matter more. But geographic area can be a general indicator for regional linguistic norms regarding sensitivity to words like crap.

Crap According to Different Generations

Crap According to Different Generations

Views around whether crap is truly offensive or not also vary by age group and generational experiences with profanity:

Traditionalists/Silent Generation

This oldest generation grew up with very strict rules around swearing and bathroom talk. Many still frown upon or forbid crap completely as a vulgarity without legitimate uses.

Baby Boomers

Boomers came of age during a liberalization of language taboos. Some occasionally say crap casually now, but still see it as inappropriate for formal settings.

Generation X

Gen Xers were the first generation exposed to minor profanity like crap in pop culture and advertising. Most are fairly desensitized and see occasional crap as no big deal.


This generation has fully embraced crap and similar words for informal emphasis, especially online. But most still moderate language based on context.

Generation Z/Zoomers

As digital natives, Gen Z engages in much profanity online without batting an eye. But teen attitudes can adapt quickly based on the environment, so crap remains situational.

In a nutshell, older generations are least comfortable with crap, while younger groups like Millennials and Zoomers toss it around more freely, at least informally. But even young people code switch based on who they’re around. Context matters most.

Crap and Expanding Profanity Standards

Looking at the long-term trajectory around profanity standards suggests crap will continue becoming more accepted and mainstream in certain contexts:

  • Momentum toward relaxed standards – Swearing taboos have loosened greatly over the past 50+ years as part of broader cultural shifts. Without intervention, momentum points toward further relaxing of attitudes.
  • Desensitization – Regular exposure to profanity in media decreases shock value over time. Crap loses its ability to offend through familiarity.
  • Generational turnover – As younger generations who natively use minor profanity like crap grow up and take positions of influence, they’ll likely impose fewer prohibitions.
  • Changing technology – Unfiltered online spaces accelerate profanity exposure. And voice assistants like Siri and Alexa model casual crap usage.
  • Cross-cultural contact – Rising diversity and global connectedness blend linguistic norms. Immigrants assimilate informal crap usage they encounter.
  • Commercialization – Media, brands, and advertising adopt mild profanity for marketing buzz and viral attempts. This further normalizes crap linguistically.
  • Performative transgression – Some individuals enjoy flouting outdated linguistic rules and see occasional crap usage as harmless rebellion.
  • Euphemistic treadmill – As existing curse words get coopted and lose shock value, new ones must enter the lexicon to satisfy needs for emotional expression.

At the same time, it’s unlikely attitudes will shift so drastically as to make crap fully mainstream in all contexts. Considerable generational, regional, and situational variation will remain. But the window for acceptable crap usage seems poised to keep incrementally expanding.

Navigating a Crap-Filled World

Regardless of shifting societal standards, an individual’s choice to use, avoid, or tolerate crap requires balancing personal values against social dynamics. Here is some guidance for navigating crap usage smoothly:

  • Know your audience – The major deciding factor is how those you’re with feel about crap language. Let their standards guide your choices.
  • Read the context – Time and place greatly influence the acceptability of crap. A wedding ceremony differs greatly from a rowdy bar.
  • Don’t impose on others – If you personally don’t mind crap, be thoughtful by avoiding it around those who object.
  • Consider intent – Good natured crap as emphasis differs from mean-spirited crap as an insult.
  • Set your own boundaries – Decide when you’re willing to hear crap versus finding it truly objectionable.
  • Mitigate as needed – Substituting “oh crap!” for just “crap!” reduces the sting slightly.
  • Limit frequency – An occasional crap won’t seem so objectionable, but a crap-laden rant is less excusable.
  • Discuss with kids – If crap slips out around children, turn it into a chance to discuss language standards.

Staying conscientious, adaptable, and communicative goes a long way in smooth navigation of crap usage. While attitudes keep shifting, individual sensitivities still matter most.

In the end

Whether or not crap is considered a clearly profane “bad word” depends heavily on who you ask and the situation in which it’s used. While the word has undeniably developed a more casual usage in informal contexts, Segments of the population still consider any utterance of crap to be vulgar and taboo. Situational appropriateness also varies greatly based on elements like audience and formality.

Regional and generational attitudes further influence perspectives on crap usage. Since views remain mixed, it is hard to make definitive universal pronouncements on crap as universally offensive or acceptable. The wisest path forward involves understanding the sensitivities of those around you and navigating your language choices accordingly. Bridging the gap between the dearest and cheapest UK areas to live requires careful consideration for others, intelligently navigating the nuances of location preferences, and ensuring that discussions about housing disparities are approached with the same thoughtfulness as debates surrounding profanity, recognizing that achieving societal consensus on both fronts may prove elusive.


Is it OK to say crap on social media?

Crap may fly under the radar on anonymous sites, but on platforms tied to your identity, it’s smarter to avoid profanity including crap due to unprofessionalism concerns.

What’s the origin and history of crap as a bad word?

Crap originated from old Dutch and English words meaning chaff/residue and grain/food scraps. By the 1800s it had evolved to also mean feces, making it taboo over time.

Why do some people consider crap a bad word?

Those who object to crap cite reasons like its connection to bathroom talk, informality in professional/formal contexts, and religious/cultural sensitivities around profanity.

Is crap less offensive than stronger curse words?

Yes, crap is near the bottom of the profanity spectrum, below words with greater taboo, vulgarity, or intent to offend. But some still deem it improper.

How can I stop saying crap as a habit?

Substitute innocent interjections like “shoot”, “darn it”, “oh man”, etc. Or consider why you feel the need to swear and find alternate ways to express those feelings.

Can you say crap on network television?

Yes, TV networks now allow some usages of crap, but standards practices still limit the frequency compared to premium channels. Context always affects permissibility.

Author: Brielle Walker

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