Eliza and Georgiana, evidently acting according to orders, spoke to me as little as possible: John thrust his tongue in his cheek whenever he saw me, and once attempted chastisement; but as I instantly turned against him, roused by the same sentiment of deep ire and desperate revolt which had stirred my corruption before, he thought it better to desist, and ran from me uttering execrations, and vowing I had burst his nose. (Jane Eyre)

"Well?" said Quirrell impatiently. "What do you see?"
Harry screwed up his courage.
"I see myself shaking hands with Dumbledore," he invented. "I - I've won the house cup for Gryffindor."
Quirrell cursed again.
"Get out of the way," he said. As Harry moved aside, he felt the Sorcerer's Stone against his leg. Dare he make a break for it? (Harry Potter)

Those two highlighted parts are very vague and abstract. Would you show me some examples for my better understanding in which specific cases the expressions can be told?

  • 1
    I agree with @StoneyB's answer, but I think this question is Not Constructive. All it amounts to is "Please supply a list of typical Victorian profanities". I will at least edit the title to reflect that, since the current In which specific cases the expressions be told? is ungrammatical and means little to me. – FumbleFingers Reinstate Monica Feb 15 '13 at 14:44
  • 1
    'Harry Potter' is not Victorian literature. Profanity nowadays is different from profanity from more than 150 years ago. – Mitch Feb 15 '13 at 15:46

It would be highly improper to suggest what either John or Quirrell might actually have said.

This is not because the words are improper; they are unlikely to be more improper than many which you have heard before or which have been discussed here or on ELU. It is because the authors, in refraining from setting the words down, have invited you, as the reader, to supply them from your own imagination. In reading fiction you are always called upon to do as much work as the author, if not more; the act of reading is a dialogue between you and the author, and it is losing the most engaging part of that act to ask someone else to perform it for you.

Moreover, since it is a private act, between you and the author, you are entirely free to supply the words from your native tongue.

(Besides, for us to supply the words would be Literary Criticism, which I believe the community regards as Off Topic.)


Both uttering execrations and cursing mean the same thing in this context:

speaking profanities or obscenities or saying something offensive to express anger or annoyance.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.