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I often say something like:

This soup is pretty damn spicy!

I am wondering now if this is actually proper grammar.

On Urban Dictionary, it says the meaning of it is “approximately”, but when I use this term I don’t use it for “approximately”. Like the above example, I used it for saying “pretty spicy” or something like “actually pretty spicy”. I hope you get the way I use that term.

But still, I am wondering if that is proper or not.

I am also wondering if this is maybe too dirty language, so you can also say whether I should say this or not.

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  • Dirty language is subjective, but I would write it as "damned spicy" if I was trying to be grammatically correct, and I would consider "damn spicy" to be a more slang/short form of that. Dec 27 '20 at 1:13
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Damn works as an intensifier, similar to very. Pretty is much milder, and has a sense of "more than expected", "more than average". It actually works to soften damn in this sense, giving it a sense of "this is surprising!"

It's definitely informal language, and some people would be offended by the word damn anyway, but it's extremely common to hear, so I wouldn't call it "dirty language" really. It depends on the company you use it in!

A common thing nowadays is for people to soften their language intentionally, partly for fun and partly because it feels nicer and friendlier - not out of a sense of decorum. So consider using "this is pretty dang spicy!"

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  • Yeah I agree. It's still a bit dirty. Dec 26 '20 at 13:51
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    I wouldn't call it dirty, as it doesn't have an obscene meaning, but don't use it with people you don't know well if you are trying to be polite. Dec 26 '20 at 14:20
  • I think 'damn' and 'damned' have lost most of their sting these days, and have a rather antique feel, at least in the UK, where church attendance is down to around 5%. Dec 26 '20 at 14:23
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    @MichaelHarvey: It's dialectical to some extent. If you say "damn" in the American South, you will turn heads. Combine it with "God" and people will be quite annoyed with you.
    – Kevin
    Dec 26 '20 at 22:50
  • A search for "damn good" reveals plenty of mainstream products using it. "damn good tacos" and so on. Dec 27 '20 at 0:13
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What is "proper" is really opinion-based. Some people find "damn" offensive, while many do not.

What I can say is that it is not polite and would not be used in a formal setting. You might say it to people you know well, but probably wouldn't say it at a job interview.

Again, what is "dirty" is opinion-based. Many people divide curse words, or swear words, into the categories of just plain offensive (for example, scatological terms), and sexual (for example, the 'F' word, or slang terms for genitalia). It is the latter that people normally think of as 'dirty' language. 'Damn' originally had religious connotations - it means to condemn to hell - so it doesn't have any sexual connotations. If people do find it offensive it is likely because of the original religious meaning, although these days, it is just used as an intensifier, as it is in your example.

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  • Yeah I shouldn't use this in formal chats, maybe with friends or just in an informal conversation I can use it. Dec 26 '20 at 13:46
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Some people find "damn" offensive, and some do not.

You should use in a conversation or not important situations, but not important situations. As I said, some people find damn offensive, so you shouldn't use it at a new person you met. Because you don't know the person will find "damn" offensive or not.

So this is not that offensive (as F-word), but (It's still a bit dirty) you should use this word carefully.

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    Yeah probably talking to friends it's okay, but now anywhere else Dec 26 '20 at 13:52
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    I once told a senior judge that I thought a certain politician was a 'damned fool' and he said "Mike, I'd use a considerably stronger adjective than that". Dec 26 '20 at 14:20

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