Racial epithets becoming more offensive to Kiwis in 2018

  • 18/07/2018

Traditional swear words remain the most offensive to Kiwis, but race- and gender-based insults are rising up the list.

The New Zealand Broadcasting Standards Authority (BSA) survey of New Zealanders shows rude words or swears based on gender, sexuality and race being viewed as more offensive, and, in some cases, appearing for the first time ever.

Thirty-one top swearwords were ranked in the list and not all of them were in English.

C**t and n****r remain at the top of the list, while the public is reacting more strongly to gender based words like bitch, d**k and prick.

5 swear words Kiwis found most offensive

  • C**t
  • N****r
  • Jesus f***ing Christ
  • C**ksucker
  • Motherf***er

Three new race-based insults appeared in the list in 2018 and homo has also been included for the first time ever.

Blasphemy-based swearing is becoming less unacceptable, with words like Jesus Christ or God sitting towards the bottom of the list.

The time a word was said proved important to Kiwis. Audiences were more forgiving of offensive language in the evening and in fictional, comedic or scripted contexts.

Words were found to be more offensive when used in a more factual, reality or spontaneous context, for example in breakfast radio, sports commentary or reality TV. 

"This research provides a useful and insightful snapshot of current community attitudes to offensive language in New Zealand," said BSA chief executive Belinda Moffat.

"The research findings give broadcasters a clear indication of the type of language that is considered unacceptable by the New Zealand public.

"We hope the research will also be a useful tool for organisations seeking to uphold NZ values and develop more inclusive and harmonious workplace culture."