I am looking for a short phrase that I can say when something bad happens. For example, when my mouse breaks or my computer is hanging.

I know the expression damn it but I need something more polite.

  • This question seems to be eliciting a lot of answers, none any better than the others. Stack Exchange discourages such questions as they are not constructive.
    – Matt Ellen
    Jan 25, 2013 at 19:33
  • Which is best for you, but how do we know that is best for everyone? Stack Exchange is about creating a resource that out lives the people who ask and answer. IMO Martha's answer is better than the accepted one, as it has more examples, which are all valid.
    – Matt Ellen
    Jan 25, 2013 at 22:11
  • 3
    I think this question is valid. It could probably be rephrased as "What are polite alternatives to 'damn' useable in mixed company?" or something similar to make it more general, but I think it is a very relevant question for someone trying to learn the English language. Jan 30, 2013 at 15:20
  • This kind of question should be valid, and is what Community Wiki is for. May 18, 2014 at 16:22
  • 2
    Randomly adding bold markup does not, in fact, make anything clearer.
    – user230
    Feb 13, 2016 at 7:27

7 Answers 7


As mentioned, darn or dang are the closest approximations of damn, and crap also works, but other common alternatives include:

  • shoot
  • geez
  • man!
  • what the heck! (or hell, but that's closer to cursing)
  • I like 'crap', it most remind me 'Mist'
    – FolksLord
    Jan 25, 2013 at 18:41
  • 4
    Note that in some circles, crap is just as objectionable as damn, possibly even more so.
    – Martha
    Jan 25, 2013 at 18:43
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    Use of Geez might be frowned upon in some circles as it's short for Jesus.
    – James P.
    Dec 20, 2015 at 22:56

What you're looking for is a minced oath version of "damn it". You have many options.

If you want to stay as close as possible to "damn it", just without the objectionable "damn" in there, you can use almost any single-syllable word that starts with D. The most common are:

  • dang it
  • darn it
  • dern it

If you just want an interjection you can use when things go awry, the possibilities multiply.

  • shoot (instead of shit)
  • shucks (instead of shit; though note that "oh shucks" has a different meaning than "oh shit")
  • heck (instead of hell)
  • gosh (instead of god)
  • what the hey (instead of "what the hell")
  • oh my lord (instead of "oh my god")
  • fricking (instead of fucking)
  • oh fudge (instead of "oh fuck")

There are also some expressions that aren't really a minced variant of anything more explicit, but are used in the same sorts of situations. The one that comes to mind is "oh dear", but the stereotypical southern grandma could probably list a lot more.


One could borrow expressions from fictional characters:

  • "Oh, bother", from Winnie-the-Pooh

  • "Rats", from Peanuts

Spoken forcefully, they can express extreme exasperation, yet be fit for the ears of children.

"Drat" also works, though it is probably dated.

  • Also from Peanuts: "Good grief!" That mild oath may sound quaintly dated now, but it still might suffice.
    – J.R.
    Jan 25, 2013 at 17:54

"Dang it" is the exact same meaning, except less intense. As stated above you can say crap, but some might find that inappropriate (small children). Furthurmore darn it is also useable. Or for a similar meaning, you could also say "Oh, No!".


Darn it is the less intense version of damn it. There's also crap, which is the less intense version of the s word.

  • I would not recommend "darn it" unless you're about 70 years old haha.
    – user47
    Jan 25, 2013 at 17:39
  • dang or dang it is effectively the same, and I use that all the time (22 yrs. old) Jan 25, 2013 at 17:48

'Bugger' is used a lot in this corner of the world (Australia/NZ). It is probably about the same 'politeness level' as damn it (and was even the running gag word in a nationally shown Toyota commercial) - though I expect this would be less so if people looked up the definition.

As the link shows, it is definitely used in the type of situations you describe.

  • 2
    Although it is totally acceptable in many parts of the world, in others it invokes it's derivation from "buggery" and is considered a pretty rude expression.
    – sas08
    Feb 12, 2016 at 20:23

Fiddle sticks, Gosh dandruff, Holy hole in a donut, Whoopsie daisy, Shucks, Shucksy darn, Whoopsies, What am I gonna do with you, Bummer, Bugger, Gad Nabit

  • I often use 'Holy mona lisa!'.
    – user43425
    Oct 19, 2016 at 18:36
  • Please edit to include an explanation of why these are useful; answers without explanation do not teach the patterns of the language well. Oct 19, 2016 at 18:55

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