5 HR Safe Swear Words

human resourse safe words fistful of talent

I tend to use swear words.  Not all the time – I’m not like some sailor walking around the office dropping ‘F-Bombs’ all the time, but in select instances I will use a word that I don’t allow my kids to use.  I’ve heard people say that those who use swear words are ignorant because they can’t come up with any other words in their vocabulary to describe what they want to say.  I don’t know if I totally agree with that. I know some really smart folks who, in the right-wrong company, will make the conscience decision to use profane language.

Time recently had an article on 9 Things You Probably Didn’t know About Swear Words.  Some of those 9 things:

  1. The average person swears quite a bit.  .7 – 3% of the total words you say!
  2. Kids often learn a four-letter word before they learn the alphabet.
  3. People in the ‘rising middle class’ use less profanity.
  4. Swearing can physiologically affect your body.
  5. People don’t use cuss words just because they have lazy minds.

In HR and Recruiting we are funny about the use of swear words.  Would you ever hire someone who used a swear word in an interview? Hell, no!  But your senior executive uses on in every meeting you’ve ever had with her!  It’s context, right?  Someone should know better to use that kind of language in an interview – but behind closed doors talking about ‘real’ issues and ‘real’ people, well, we’re just keeping it ‘real’…

I do feel for HR and Talent Pros, though, so I wanted to come up with a list of 5 HR  Safe Swear words that you can use around the office – still feel the energy of using a swear word without getting yourself in trouble.  Here we go:

1. Holy Crap!  You can just use ‘crap’, but the ‘Holy’ really makes this a go-to safe swear word.  “Holy Crap! Are you kidding me right now – there is no way we can deliver that in 2 weeks!”

2. Freaking!  This is the perfect ‘F’ word replacement.  “There is no Freaking way I’m going to allow that to happen!”

3. Gosh Dang It! This one makes me feel like I just saw a Pastor hit his finger with a hammer while rebuilding a barn for a neighbor that got blown down in the storm.  He wants to swear, but he also wants the first class ticket to heaven!

4. Holy Mother!  This is a good one because it takes two words that aren’t swear words but that people use as the prefix for a big swear words.  “Holy Mother!  I told you to stop sending female employees pictures of your junk.  Did you get dropped on your head as child?”

5. Son of a Bucket!  Again – people will understand the context – and you can literally replace “Bucket” with any other word starting with “B” and it still works.  Son of a Beetle; Son of a Butternut Squash; Son of a Buick – it’s how you emphasize the “Son of A!” before your “B” word that really makes this one work!

By the way – the summer of my 11th year I got roped into attending a ‘summer camp’ by a kid in my neighborhood.  He said it was fun – we’d get to play games, food, prizes, etc.!  He tricked me – it was church bible summer camp.  Which didn’t have fun, games or prizes!  He was just pissed he had to go and wanted someone to be miserable with all summer!  I only tell you this to let you know that all 5 of the HR Safe Swear Words have been tested by me with a man of the cloth – and all passed muster!  So, you’re safe, you can use them in HR.

FOT Background Check

Tim Sackett
Tim Sackett SPHR, is the ultimate Mama’s Boy!  After 15+ years of successfully leading HR and Talent Acquisition departments for Fortune 500s and smaller technical firms, Tim took over running the contingent staffing firm HRU Technical Resources in Lansing, MI. Serving as the Executive Vice President, Tim runs the company his mother started over 30 years ago, and don’t tell Mom, but he thinks he does a better job at it than she did!  Check out his blog at www.timsackett.com. Because he's got A LOT to say, and FOT just isn't enough for him.


  1. Julie says:

    My name is Julie and I’m in HR.
    I swear.
    A lot.

    #7 – Shut the front door

    BTW – my dad’s variation on #5 – Son of a biscuit-basket…I use it just because it’s so ridiculous.

  2. Chris says:

    I’m thinking you may have meant they all passed “muster.” Passing mustard is what I do cuz I prefer catsup. :-)

    • Tim Sackett
      Tim Sackett says:

      Thx Chris. Change made. Holy mother, son of a bukcet, gosh dang it, I’m so freaking bad at grammar I should be the crap out of my former English teachers! ;)

  3. Tonia says:

    This was great – I use quite a few variations of this including Son of a Biscuit, freaking (all the time), holy crap (all the time).

    My other favorite one is Dag nabit – not really sure if this is one or two words. My young nieces love when I use this one when I am losing playing cards – it is just so silly. It is the inflection however, that makes it sound like GD it to us grown ups.

    Makes me feel better that someone thinks these are safe! =) Thanks for the chuckle!

  4. Cori says:

    Holy Shiite. No?

  5. Bil Moore says:

    Firetruck: The only other word to start with “F” and end with “uck”.

    And, “Son of a Biscuit Eater”

  6. Shannon says:

    Mother Trucker

  7. Nick says:

    “Buckets” just plain “Buckets”. It can replace any word, but best used as a replacement for S*** or an American version of the British “Bollocks”.

  8. Ruth says:

    shut the front door

  9. Elizabeth says:

    I’m in HR…and married to a Marine…so yes, I swear. My personal favorite is “Holy Cheez-Wiz!!!” Interestingly enough, that one has gotten me some dirty looks…I wonder why?

  10. Greg Modd says:

    Cheese and rice employee! Get your noddle out of your miss Michigan and stop being such a donkey!

  11. Brian says:

    Got to go with “Elf” on this one, “Son of a Nutcracker!”

  12. Veronica says:

    Dagnabit – use that along with Heavens to Murgatroyd, Poop and Lollipops.

  13. TR says:

    Be the crap?
    How transcendental of you.

  14. Villain says:

    I usually say Fudge Monkies when I really mean Sh#$


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