List Of Rude Words That You Weren’t Allowed To Say On TV In 80’s Is Very Different To Now

by : Julia Banim on : 02 Sep 2021 13:02
List Of Rude Words That You Weren't Allowed To Say On TV In 80's Is Very Different To Now@ArfurSmith/Twitter/20thCenturyFox

A list of rude words has gone viral which really does illustrate how language and the impact of certain words has changed dramatically in the course of just a few short decades.

English alternative comedian Arthur Smith took to Twitter to share a piece of paper entitled ‘Obscenity’, bearing three distinct lists Arthur has humorously likened to ‘three rude poems’.


Dating back to the 1980s, this trio of lists are divided into distinct categories, the first being words you can ‘no way’ ever say on television. The second two, which are supposedly slightly less rude, check off words you can use ‘if you absolutely have to’ and those deemed to be ‘ok’.

This time capsule sheet urges those intending to use potty language on the telly to ‘be careful of defamatory remarks about: product names, public figures’.

Making such comments about MPs and members of the royal family would ‘generally’ be considered okay, however, readers were urged to be ‘extremely careful when it comes to homosexuality or fraud’.


Check it out:

The ‘no way’ list contains a few choice words which you still wouldn’t use around the family dinner table today, namely: ‘f*ck’, ‘c*nt’, ‘p*ssy’ and ‘tw*t’. However, I was personally surprised to see ‘w*nk’ treated so sternly when it really is thrown about will-nilly nowadays on mainstream telly.


Other surprise additions to this strictest list were ‘smegma’ and ‘Jesus Christ’, terms which wouldn’t really shock a modern audience.

As per the Oxford English Dictionary, smegma refers to ‘a sebaceous secretion in the folds of the skin, especially under a man’s foreskin’, but it isn’t really a term that’s widely used anymore and – as one Twitter user put it – it ‘sounds like a type of Pokémon’.


The ‘if you absolutely have to’ category also makes for interesting reading, with ‘oh god’, ‘bleeding’ and ‘Jesus’ sat up there with words such as ‘d*ckhead’, ‘b*llocks’ and ‘b*stard’. I was similarly intrigued to see ‘d*ck’ in the ‘ok’ box, listed alongside ‘t*ts’, ‘bums’ and ‘git’.

Giving an eye-opening comparison, stand-up comic Arif Mahmood shared an updated version of telly no-gos, with ‘Jesus Christ’ and ‘God’ now downgraded to the ‘milder’ category alongside ‘minger’ and – somewhat oddly – ‘ginger’.

The retro list has left many Twitter users rather amused as well as a bit baffled, with one relatable person remarking, ‘the OK column is basically the sound of my brain booting up in the morning’.


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Julia Banim

Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.

Topics: Film and TV, TV, Twitter


  1. @ArfurSmith/Twitter