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 42 Word: Hyperobject A word for things too huge to name. Arts & Culture Word: Negentropy A physicist’s fix for a messy home. Arts & Culture Issue 39 Word: Umarell The men who stare at construction sites. Arts & Culture Issue 38 Word: Hauntology The study of cultural ghosts. Arts & Culture Issue 37 Word: Hot Mess From humble grub to humblebrag. Arts & Culture Issue 36 Word: Frenemy Worst friends ever.