Some people may resort to foul language like swearing and cursing to vent uncontrollably intense feelings. These profane and stigmatized expressions, which occur in a large variety of forms, have evolved for centuries and are now deep-rooted in English-sy>eaking countries. It is true that most of them have lost their original or literal senses and are used merely as meaningless expletives, but there are some which are still deemed strictly as taboo--social restrictions prohibit their use in public. This article deals with oaths, imprecations and other blasphemous formulas found in Goldsmith's She Stoops to Conquer (1773) and Sheridan's The Rivals (1775). Examples are sorted according to their fundamental meanings, with some statistical analyses added in a later section for further discussion. We are concerned here particularly
with the linguistic features influenced by such social factors as "gender" and "class," tracing the trends in 18th century British society. We hope to elucidate what conventional formulas were widely adopted in those days and how new modes were devised by each author.