expletive » explicative

Chiefly in:   explicative deleted

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • “By [explicative deleted] god, look at the story we did about the former Beverly student … If that’s not [explicative deleted] controversy, then what the …” (link)
  • “They called me names like (explicative deleted) Indian and told me to go … I immediately yelled at them (Indians) to get the (explicative deleted) out of …” (link)
  • “Explicative deleted, explicative deleted. It was a word that rhymes with spit. We’re not certain where he picked it up, but no matter, the interview was …” (link)
  • “Instead of responding acidly to what I consider stupid posts I will instead close the door to my room and shout explicatives until my lungs are empty,…” (link)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Wilson Gray (American Dialect Society mailing list, 10 August 2005)

Gray’s original contribution was an unattributed: “He was shouting, ‘Eff you!’ and other explicatives.”

On 10 August 2005, ca. 1,190 raw Google webhits for “explicative deleted” (as against ca. 63,700 for “expletive deleted”), but the “explicative” figure is high enough to make this look eggcornish. I’m guessing that the sound-symbolic value of “plic” (suggesting “pluck”, “prick”, “flick”, “frick”, “fuck”, etc.) plays an important role in the reshaping. Meanwhile, Peter McGraw suggested on ADS-L, 11 August 2005, that “another example of a shouted explicative would be, ‘”Shut up,” he explained.’”

“Expletive” >> “explicative” occurs in other contexts as well — as the object of “shout”, for instance: 4 hits for “shout explicatives” (vs. ca. 650 for “shout expletives”), 2 for “shouts explicatives” (vs. ca. 114), 3 for “shouted explicatives” (vs. ca. 817), and 18 for “shouting expletives” (vs. ca. 539).

From Ben Zimmer on ADS-L, 10 August 2005: “And there are 216 hits for ‘exploitive deleted’. Some of these could be spellchecker artifacts (possibly ‘correcting’ the spelling of ‘explitive’).”

[And now, from Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky on 28 August 2007, an example involving neither deleting nor shouting, from a blog:

Of course they asked me this while I was simultaneously rolling out a pizza crust, emptying the dishwasher, bathing a child and talking on the phone to a stupid telemarketer who only understood the word “no” when accompanied by explicatives.]

| link | entered by Arnold Zwicky, 2005/08/11 |


  1. 1

    Commentary by Chris Waigl , 2005/11/14 at 8:56 am

    Here is a cite for _explicitive_, from a blog entry by the bible scholar Joseph Cathey (November 09, 2005; context: the archeological find of an alphabetic inscription near Tel Zayit, Israel):

    * _Below I have given a snipit from the Pitt Post Gazette (with Dever’s explicitive deleted)._

    The obfuscated “explicitive” appears in the following quote:

    > “This is a great discovery because it embarrasses the h\*\*\* out of the skeptics,” said Dr. Dever, who argued for the proponents in a controversial 2001 book titled “What Did the Biblical Writers Know and When Did They Know It?”

    Just over 200 GHits, after removal of duplicates for “explicitive deleted”. Indeed, using taboo language is more explicit than obfuscating or deleting it.

    (I’ll pass over the “snipit”, but do wonder if it’s like a post-it.)

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