Tag Archives: cursing


Shoot! is an exclamation meaning “dang it!” or for people who swear, “damn it.”  I  said, “shoot!” because I have neglected my blog for awhile. I have been busy teaching and developing a course for SkimaTalk called Misused and Misunderstood Words.

But today, I saw a Facebook post of my son-in-law working a cattle chute (pronounced like shoot).  The men put the cattle in the chute, which is a type of pen or cage that prevents the animal from moving, so they could be given their shots.

Chris shoot

It occurred to me that there are a gazillion* uses for the words shoot and shot.  And I thought it might be fun to share them with you.  I’ve included an example for each meaning.

A big shot  Someone important, “You don’t have to be a big shot to be treated like one at our store.”

A cheap shot This expression uses the fourth meaning of shot (below).  It means an insult that is highly personal, or that is given at a time or manner where the person being attacked can’t respond.   “That comment about her age was a cheap shot.”

A shot  • 1. An attempt or try, “I’ve never done that sort of thing before, but I’ll give it a shot.”

• 2. The sound a gun makes, “I heard three shots then the sound of tires peeling out.” 

• 3. A serving of strong alcohol, often served in a shot glass, ranging from 1.25-1.5 ounces (40-44 mL),  “A shot of whiskey is said to aid digestion.” (See more about this in My Take On It below)

4.  An insult or criticism, “The politician took a shot at her opponents, calling their ideas primitive.”

•5. An injection, “The nurse gave us our shots today.” 

A Shot of a Deer
Shot of a Deer, by M. W. Snider

•6. A photograph, “I got a great shot of the deer.”

7. An unobstructed view (especially through the scope of a gun), “I’ve got a shot (of the deer)!

•8. Someone who shoots a gun, “I’m not a very good shot.”

•9. In sports: a hit or kick of a ball, The shot ricocheted off the sideboard and into the goal.

•10. A pellet in a BB gun, or shotgun, The shotgun shells are loaded with lead shot.

Buckshot. Illustration courtesy of Remington Arms Co., Inc.
  • A shot in the arm  This expression uses the fifth meaning of shot (above). It means a boost, or something that makes you feel better. “That extra funding was a real shot in arm for our project.”

    Army Medicine photo posted on Flickr, Sept 7, 2012
    Army Medicine, Flickr, Sept 7, 2012

A shot in the dark  This expression uses the first meaning of “a shot.” It means a blind attempt*, an attempt which is likely to fail, or a wild guess. “I asked the neighbors to let us know if they spot* our runaway lizard.  I figured it was a shot in the dark.”

 A shoot A photography session (this includes video, motion picture, and still photography), “The models arrived at the shoot.”

Call the shots To give orders/to be in charge, “While the boss is on vacation, Mr. Howard will be calling the shots.”

Shot  To move quickly (like something being shot out of a gun), “The pain shot through my hand.”

Shoot!  In addition to the exclamation of frustration described at the top of this post, Shoot! also means go ahead, Q.* Can I ask you a question?, A. Shoot!

Shoot something off  To quickly send something somewhere (see the related “shoot something to someone” below), “I need to shoot an email off before we leave.”

Shoot the breeze Casual conversation about a variety of topics, “We sat on the bench and shot the breeze for about an hour.”

Shoot your mouth off  To talk about something that you shouldn’t share (especially about someone else), “I would tell the kids more about our plans if I weren’t afraid they would shoot their mouths off.”

To shoot something to someone This means to send someone something quickly, “I shot them a text letting them know we would meet them at seven.”

Straight-shooter  An honest person who “tells it like it is”,* “I’m looking for a politician who is a straight shooter.” 

My Take On It

Because this blog is committed to presenting a Christian perspective, I would be remiss if I didn’t talk about my thoughts about drinking.   There are Christian churches that forbid the consumption of alcohol, while others are silent, or even serve wine at Communion.*

Paul writes in his first letter to the church in Corinth, chapter six

12 “Everything is permissible for me,” but not everything is helpful. “Everything is permissible for me,” but I will not be brought under the control of anything.

He expands on this idea throughout his letter, explaining that God has blessed us with many things including, food, wine and sex.  In and of themselves* these things are neither right or wrong. It is how we use what has been given to us that matters. Click To Tweet

As Paul advises, we must be considerate of the needs and concerns of those around us.  Every good thing has been given by God and was intended to bless us.  We can misuse and abuse these good things however and the result is no longer good.

Generations of my family have struggled with alcoholism, which is a terribly misunderstood disease.  My personal solution is to avoid alcohol since I have a genetic risk but have not yet developed the disease.  And on the occasions when I do have a drink, I limit myself to one.

Blessings,    Michele  


Cursing: Using inappropriate words appropriately!

Honest Abe
Honest Abe

Today one of my students told me he was, “so F*@#!!ng tired!”  (This is also described as “dropping the F-bomb!)

I had mixed feelings on how to respond.  The “F-word” is used frequently nowadays, especially in casual situations, and it’s heard in most R-rated movies. So, it’s probably important to understand how it’s used and when it can be used effectively.

In business situations, and often in “mixed company”(=both men and women are present), it is much more professional and respectful to refrain from swearing (=cursing).  I did a  little research on the use of profanity in business and found that swearing is still considered unprofessional.  It demonstrates a lack of self-control, a lack of training, and a limited vocabulary.

Personally, I have never felt the need to cuss (cuss is the more commonly used reduction of the word “curse”).  When I was in junior high school I experimented with profanity a bit, but my dad explained that it made me seem less intelligent. He was right! It is not impressive when someone describes everything as looking like, feeling like or being “shit,” or “F’d up.”  We can express our feelings, our impressions, and our opinions much better without using expletives (=swear words).

However, the title of this post is, “Using inappropriate words appropriately!”  There are  a few things to consider before we can swear “appropriately.”  As I mentioned before, swearing is almost second-nature (=natural, typical) for a lot of people, especially those under the age of 25.  The following considerations all “boil down to”(= result in) the idea of respect.

1. In professional environments, whether you are the student or the teacher, the doctor or the patient, cussing isn’t appropriate.  It is disrespectful.  In business environments, swearing could even be perceived as hostile (especially if you are in a position of authority). Remember: dress and perform for the job you want–not the job you have.

2. Be careful swearing in “mixed company.” As a general rule, more women are uncomfortable with swearing than men.  Again, it’s a respect thing. Let the women “set the tone“* of the conversation. Sometimes using mild profanity can be flirtatious or fun ( see James O’Connor’s book, Cuss Control for more on this topic).  +My opinion below.

3. Think twice before swearing when  you are communicating with people outside your age-group.  Don’t swear in front of those young enough to be your children or old enough to be your parents (or grandparents). In fact, swearing in front of a child or an elderly person could cause someone (a parent, or a friend or relative) to react violently towards you if they feel your language is threatening, or harmful to someone they love.

So, back to my student, although he used the F-word “correctly,” it wasn’t appropriate on a number of levels: 1. I am his teacher, 2. I have never used profanity with him, so he should have taken the cue (=the hint) from me that it wasn’t okay, and 3. I am old enough to be his mother.  From now on I will just refer those with “dirty mouths” (= a term for people who cuss a lot) and F-bombers to read this post and I encourage you to do so as well! +My opinion below

Of course, the safest way to use inappropriate language appropriately is not to do it!  But if you feel deprived (=cheated, like you’re missing out on something) then a good rule of thumb is to follow the lead of a respected role model.  Strong language can make a strong impression, use it wisely!

(Here are 10 tips from the “Cuss  Control Academy” * http://www.cusscontrol.com/tips1.html *).

Michele MVE 02 Icon 80 Percent JPEG  My Take on It*

During my Christian upbringing I heard about the importance of controlling one’s tongue. Spoken language is powerful and what is said can never be unsaid.  Since my goal is to try  to be an example of God’s love and grace, for me inappropriate language is never appropriate. There are just too many opportunities to offend or hurt someone since using profanity often communicates disrespect.

#2. About swearing in “mixed company”: a person who is able to control themselves, including their language, is generally more respected and seems more confident and successful.

The Bible instructs us to, “Speak the truth in love.” Although it is sometime awkward to point out to students when they misuse language, or make mistakes, it is important to give honest feedback.  Our goal is not to criticize but to increase awareness so language can be used more successfully (and intentionally).

Thanks! Feel free to comment  or ask questions (but please keep it respectful) Michele