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Is there a polite but equally emphatic and concise alternative to "Fuck 'em" or "Fuck it"?

I am asking if there is an acceptable alternative to the F-word when it is used particularly to dismiss someone or something or to express indifference or nonchalance. I want a word or a short phrase that is somewhat equivalent to

Stop thinking about what others are going to think, and just do your thing ...

But I want it to be as powerful as "Fuck 'em" or "Fuck it". Note that this specific use of the F-word does not have any connotation of "anger" or "ill-intentions". Instead, I would say that it shows the speaker "cares" about the person they are talking to.

Polite ways to express the intended meaning includes

  1. Don't worry about it (them), it (they) isn't (aren't) important.
  2. Listen, just forget about it (them), and focus on ...
  3. Just don't think about them, who cares about what they want/think! Stay away from the naysayers.

But these don't have the power and the impact that I am looking for. Compare "Fuck 'em! I know what you got, now let's go and get it done!"

Example of the usage in an informal setting:

Coach to student: Hey, you got this beautiful beach near your house, why don't you go for a run and shadowbox there early in the morning?

Student: What?! Shadowbox in public? People are gonna to laugh at me, probably gonna think I am crazy, or that I am showing off.

Coach: Listen, what is wrong with you? How you gonna get naked and fight in the ring in front of thousands of people, with the light shining on you, if you are so bothered with what a few people will think watching you shadowbox in the beach? Listen, fuck what everybody is gonna say or think, just fuck 'em. You go and do your thing, the whole world is your gym.

Now, this use of the F-word is perfectly fine for an informal setting. But I would like to know if there is an alternative for a more professional and formal setting. The alternative does not have to be formal; it can be a mild curse word/phrase too. It just needs to not have the F-word in it and still be effective and powerful.

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    I don't think so. All I can come up with is something like "damn it" (which is still considered cursing), or "screw it/them", which is still at least a tad unprofessional, depending on the situation at least. I really think the F-word's emphatic impact is largely because it's a rude word, and that you necessarily give up that impact when choosing a safer one. That said, if I was around, say, my extended family, I'd use "screw it", or "screw this crap" – Micah Cowan Jun 1 at 19:04
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    The whole power of 'fuck' lies in its transgressive nature. – Michael Harvey Jun 1 at 19:05
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    In my office we have a guy who says 'fuck' often when he is excited or animated. He has a form of Tourettes syndrome. He has said he wants to reduce this. The strange thing is what has actually happened is that everybody, including senior managers, now says 'fuck' a lot more. – Michael Harvey Jun 1 at 19:08
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    @AIQ "screw" is frequently used as a substitute for fuck (though it can't replace "fucking" with "screwing" in contexts such as "that's so fucking great/stupid/fantastic". But anyway, yeah, it totally has the intended meaning. But it's still a lot milder in tone. People also sometimes substitute "frik", "frig", or "freak", and that can be used to replace all uses of "fuck"; but it sounds exactly like what it is - a weak euphemism. Especially in a phrase like "Screw them" - "Frik them" sounds like a Christian youth pastor trying to be relatable ^_^ – Micah Cowan Jun 1 at 19:20
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    "To hell with them!" If that's too strong, you can slide back down the axis running from acceptability to force by substituting "heck". – Jack O'Flaherty Jun 1 at 19:23
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"To hell with them!" If that's too strong, you can slide back down the axis running from acceptability to force by substituting "heck".

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    "Oh, to hell with dignity. I'll leave when the job's done!" ~ M, Skyfall – Micah Windsor Jun 1 at 23:13
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A relatively recent slang term that could be used to dismiss a person or an ideology without seeming to be vulgar and has the force and obnoxiousness of the swearing is the word:

"Whatever!"

The word itself can be a pronoun or an adjective meaning of any matter or any type. Its popularity grew around the 1990's. It seems to be a more forceful variant of the saying:

"So what?"

Sometimes, the pronunciation of the "Whatever" can be intentionally slurred for greater sophomoric effect. In this case the 'v' would be mispronounced as a 'b'.

Examples:

"The CEO's limousine just caught on fire."

The dismissive reply would be:

"Whatever!"

or

"The Governor is asking all the unions across the board to take a 10% pay cut to pay for the shelter in place policy."

"Whatever!"

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  • A word of caution regarding "whatever:" depending on how you say it and the context it might sound like "valley girl speak," which is regarded as a marker of a vapid person by most English speakers. – gormadoc Jun 4 at 21:17
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Never mind the bollocks, here's the Sex Pistols!

Sorry, I couldn't resist. Definitely what I would say, though.

P.S. According to the linked page, some stores refused to sell the record because bollocks was considered offensive in 1977. Convenient.

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  • But what does that whole phrase mean? Like "Never mind the testicles/nonsense (which are you referring to?), here's the [what does Sex Pistols mean?]" – AIQ Jun 2 at 0:34
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    @AIQ Well, I'm sure it's a figure of speech and not meant to be taken literally. I would say it's equivalent to "Don't let others get you down, let's just have a good time!" or "Never mind their bullshit, you've got better things to do". Leave them to rot in their misery, we're going to see Sid Vicious! – Micah Windsor Jun 2 at 1:05
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    @AIQ The Sex Pistols were/are a very well-known British rock group. – Micah Windsor Jun 2 at 1:07
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As requested, reformulating and expanding some comments as an answer.

All I can come up with is something like "damn it" (which is still considered cursing), or "screw it/them", which is still at least a tad unprofessional, depending on the situation at least.

"Damn it" or "damn them" also sounds a lot more angry/hostile than "fuck it" does - "fuck it/them" can be a simple (but emphatic) dismissal (which is what you asked for), whereas "damn it" means you're frustrated, and "damn them" means they have probably done something actively wrong that you are seriously upset with. "Fuck them" can be shorthand for "fuck what they think", which can be said even if you don't actually know what "they" might think (and so are not really angry about anything).

You couldn't really respond just "Damn them," if someone were to ask "But what will your parents think," without it expressing a certain hatred or anger; but you could say "Damn my parents - I do what I want". Both the explicit object ("parents") and the follow-on explanation are necessary to use it as a dismissal... but it still comes off as pretty forceful I think (and many Americans still consider "damn" a "curse word", though it's nowhere near the "rudeness" that "fuck" has.


In the context you're asking about, the closest you can probably get is "screw this", or "screw it" - in most contexts, you can replace the word "fuck" with "screw" - both words are used to describe people having sex, and both can be used equivalently (though with different force) in phrases like

  • "* what they think"
  • "OMG, I'm so *ed right now"
  • "This whole day is *ed"
  • "I walked in on them *ing"
  • "Don't * with me, I've got friends in high places"

However, "screw" can not be used as a general-purpose "force enhancer" the way that "fuck" can:

  • That's fucking fantastic!
  • I am abso-fucking-lutely excited about tomorrow!
  • The fuck you looking at, fucker? [Neither instance is replaceable]

I really think fuck's emphatic impact is largely because it's a rude word, and that you necessarily give up that impact when choosing a safer one. That said, if I was around, say, my extended family, I'd use "screw it", or "screw this crap", or "screw what anybody else thinks". And I grew up in a family that wouldn't let us say the words "damn", "butt"(?!) or "that sucks" (granted, they've relaxed a little from that since then).

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    Another person named Micah? Now that's fucked. – Micah Windsor Jun 2 at 0:02
  • @MicahWindsor ^_^ – Micah Cowan Jun 2 at 3:53

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