Printable Version
Pronunciation: kês Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, noun

Meaning: 1. (Verb) To use foul or profane language; to curse. 2. (Noun) A profane or vulgar word. 3. (Noun) A stubborn or annoying person.

Notes: Here is another illiterate mispronunciation that has insinuated itself into the general vocabulary. Like fancy from fantasy, ornery from ordinary, and curtsy from courtesy, cuss is a mispronunciation of curse that has become an acceptable member of colloquial English. It is used more in the southern US states than anywhere else.

In Play: Here is the way you can use the today's Good Word in its noun and verb senses in the same sentence: "Ivan Oder was the cussin'est old cuss I've ever met." It is probably used down South more as a verb in the sense of "curse" like this: "When Elroy saw what he owed in taxes, he cussed a few words, then tore up his return."

Word History: Today's Good Word devolved from Old English curs via simplification of the final RS cluster, much as the same cluster was simplified in arse. The origin of this word is really unknown. The best guess is that it comes from Medieval Latin cursus "race, course, way", referring to the course of imprecations read in church four times a year imposing automatic excommunication for certain sins. If so, we know all about cursus. It is the past participle of currere "to run", used as a noun to mean "race, course, way". This Latin word was passed on by Proto-Indo-European from its word kers- "run", which became hurza "run, hurry, move with haste" in Proto-Germanic and hurry in English. It also went into the making of Latin carrus "cart", borrowed as car and cart by English via French.

Dr. Goodword,

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