The most contentious area of English, the one that raises the most debate, discomfort and even fear is the use of taboo words and contentious expressions. Many people assume that these words must relate principally to sex and body parts but forbidden terms shift through the ages, with the result that current verbal taboos are just as likely to occupy racial and even political areas rather than sexual ones. However blasé or sophisticated we consider ourselves, plenty of these terms, whether connected to sex or religion or race, retain their power to shock as well as having an intrinsic fascination. Where do they come from? When did they enter the English language and how have they changed in form or impact over the years? And how is it that a short string of letters and sounds, a single syllable or two, can possess the almost magical power to offend, distress or infuriate? Are we less or more easily upset or outraged these days or is it that our focus shifted to different areas? Does the requirement to be shocked meet some psychological need and exist independent of the actual taboo terms?Bad Words looks at the history and current state of some of the most controversial and provocative words in the English language. These range far beyond the seven 'dirty words' which US comedian William Carlin promised would 'infect your soul, curve your spine and lose the war for the Allies', and the book - discursive, anecdotal, analytical - will cover expressions connected to religion, ethnicity, nationality, politics, swearing and oaths, using examples from past and present, and concentrating especially on those expressions which have an intriguing or scandalous history. Among the terms examined are:alternative; alt-right; arse; arsehole; balls; bastard; bitch; black; blind; bloody; bollocks; bourgeois; bugger; bullshit; bureaucrat(-cy); butch; capitalism; censorship; chink; choice; Christmas; class; cock; cocksucker; coloured; communist(ic)/commy; crap; crazy; cretin; cuck; cum; cunt; customer; dago; deaf; delivery; (holocaust/climate change) denier; dick; dickhead; dumb; dyke; elite/elitist; English; evolution; extremist; faggot; fanny; fart; fascist; federal; feminist; forefathers; freedom; frog; fuck; gay; gentleman; ghetto; girl; God; gook; gyp/gyppo; heritage; Hitler; holocaust; identity politics; investment; Irish; Jesus (Christ); jew(ish); kike; knob; kraut; lady; lefty; lez; liberal; manpower; marxist; mental; metropolitan; moderate; moron; motherfucker; multicultural; nazi; negro; niggardly; nigger; nutter; organic; Orwellian; paddy; piss; politically correct; poof; populist; prick; pro-choice; pro-life; psycho; pussy; queer; racist; regime; retard(ed); schizo; Scottish; scum; shit; slag; slut; snowflake; socialist; solution; spade; spaz/spastic; spic; suburban; system; terror(ist); tits; traveller; turd; twat; unacceptable; vagina; victim; wanker; Welsh; whore; wop; workmanlike; yid; zionistSome of the by-ways of dangerous language explored include: minced oaths, double entendres, bowdlerisms, euphemisms and expurgations, speech codes, hate speech, and censorship. And then there's the little matter of political correctness, and its misuse especially by those on the right . . . Bad Words provides an entertaining overview of all kinds of dark linguistic nooks and crannies as well as examining the traditional four-letter favourites.