Falstaff was a master of the imaginative curse. In Henry IV, Part I, the wayward knight calls Prince Hal and others starvelings, whoreson caterpillars, bacon-fed knaves, and bull’s pizzles. To many, Falstaff is just the sort of individual one might expect to curse so often and well: crude and hot-tempered, an inveterate drunkard and all-around scoundrel. But what if swearing weren’t the mark of an impoverished character or intellect, but rather the sign of a great communicator? According to Melissa Mohr, author of Holy Shit: A Brief History of Swearing, letting loose with the occasional expletive is an excellent way of communicating meaning. When you swear at someone, This story is from Kinfolk Issue Forty Buy Now Related Stories Arts & Culture Issue 47 Word: Döstädning A Swedish solution to the mess of death. Arts & Culture Issue 46 Word: Wintering When to withdraw from the world. Arts & Culture Issue 45 Word: Explication An explanation to end all explanations. Arts & Culture Issue 44 Word: Anecdata Fact, meet fiction. Arts & Culture Issue 43 Word: Knolling The fascinating history of the flat lay. Arts & Culture Issue 42 Word: Hyperobject A word for things too huge to name.