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We then take 68 from 62 to see what the remainder is...HANG ON!68 is too big to take away from 62. You might want to shout out a naughty word. Ha ha! Serve him right(Mr.Titus who is a bad guy). Anyway, we know that our guess of 4 is too big, so we rub out the 4 and the 68 and try dividing by 3 instead.


What is the naughty word in the picture above, does it mean something rude such as holy s***? according to the picture of fist nearby. This book is Murderous Maths series which belong to the Horrible Science series.

  • 8
    A naughty word is a rather naïve way of referring to an expletive or swear-word. The book in your photo looks as though it is aimed at children; it just means 'if the sum doesn't work out you will be annoyed and feel like swearing.' What sort of 'naughty word' you imagine a school child using depends on your background! Aug 29, 2020 at 12:00
  • 4
    I see you've commented several times under the answer to thank the answerer. You don't have to do that. This is not a discussion forum and comments should keep on point. Appreciation is shown through upvotes on and acceptance of answers. If you find an answer helpful, upvote it and/or accept it.
    – Eddie Kal
    Aug 29, 2020 at 23:17
  • 1
    @EddieKal and instead of thanking, people should [Pay it Forward] by answering one of the answerer's questions, if qualified.
    – Marvin
    Aug 30, 2020 at 2:38

1 Answer 1


This is clearly a book written for children. Culturally we don't use swear words to or around children. But, of course, children know all the swear words in English. This trying to be jolly, to empathise with the child readers, to make them giggle (because it's fun to think about using taboo words in front of an authority figure like a teacher. It's funny that a grown-up knows those naughty words too)

This is supported by the illustration of the adult being (very politely) shocked, and the next sentence "Ha ha, serves him right!" (from the viewpoint of the child, the boring old teacher was well offended by my naughty word) You have to get inside the mind of a 10-year-old to get the humour.

You don't need to know what the actual word was, and different children will probably imagine something different. They will probably imagine the "naughtiest" word that they know: the one that they would never really say in front of a teacher, since that is the funniest thing to imagine yourself doing.

The use of skulls, lightning bolts and other similar pictures to represent swear word in cartoons was used by (for example) Asterix the Gaul. Again to indicate swearing without actually using any of the rude words. See, for example https://www.thebigsmoke.com.au/2020/08/26/weve-been-using-symbols-to-mask-swear-words-for-half-a-millennia/

  • 2
    Before emojis it was !@#$%^&*()
    – MaxW
    Aug 30, 2020 at 0:40
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    Actually it was emojis first. The original use of these is from 1902 and the Katzenjammers Kids, which used exclamation marks, dashes and an anchor (representing "sailor's words")
    – James K
    Aug 30, 2020 at 7:10

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