General English

  • noun a swear word
  • noun a magic word to make something unpleasant happen to someone
  • noun something which causes you problems
  • verb to wish that something bad should happen to someone


  • noun menstruation, a monthly period. This is the standard term used by schoolgirls and women; its probable origin is in Genesis, in which Eve is ‘cursed’ by God who promises to ‘multiply thy sorrow and thy conception: in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children’. The ‘curse of Eve’ thus became a euphemism for the most troublesome aspect of femininity.

Origin & History of “curse”

Curse first appeared in late Old English (in the early 11th century) as curs. It has no known linguistic relatives, and it is not clear where it comes from. perhaps the most plausible suggestion is that it was borrowed from Old French curuz ‘anger’ (which probably came from the verb *corruptiāre, a vulgar Latin derivative of Latin corrumpere ‘destroy’ – source of English corrupt), and that curse itself therefore originally meant ‘anger, wrath’. The colloquial alteration cuss dates from the 18th century.