7 Creative Ways To Tell Someone To F**k Off (Without Swearing)

I don’t think I heard my mom swear much until I was over twenty. I don’t know if it was her über-Midwestern upbringing, or if that would be too precious a stereotype to apply to a woman who also raised me on action movies (like explosions-action-movies), who owned and read Steven King’s entire oeuvre, who managed Muddy Waters, who laughed off religious relatives’ objections to me “practicing” Wicca in middle school, who begrudged but didn’t stop me from dying my hair bright red and getting tattoos, and who, in general, is a pretty tough broad.

But she didn’t swear much. Like, practically never. She did the washing-our-mouths-with-soap thing, and when I swore in front of her the first time in the car (I let “who the hell is that?” slip when I was 10), she slammed on the brakes and turned to me, aghast.

This didn’t rub off on me, of course — fuck that shit. I’m thrilled I’ve found a job where I can swear at only a slightly-less-than-in-real-life sort of rate when I write. That being said, I find that my mom’s old habit of coming up with colorful, narrative, or absurd ways to tell people she did not give fucks or that they needed to buzz off without swearing can be both effective and disorienting to the person receiving the insult. To that end, I’ve come up with some of my own ways to tell people I don’t care…

1. “Drink hemlock or go into exile.” Somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of people don’t get the reference when I say this, at least outside of literary and academic circles. For reference, when Socrates was found guilty of corrupting the minds of Athens’ youth and disrespecting the gods of Athens, his sentence was to either drink hemlock or go into exile. I don’t apply this only to situations in which someone has corrupted childrens’ minds, of course; it’s applicable anytime you just want someone to go the fuck away.

2. “Go into space and take your helmet off.” Yeah, I’m referring to the scene in Mission to Mars where Tim Robbins takes his helmet off in front of the woman who loves him so she can watch his head depressurize rather than, y’know, waiting until she’s gone or something (dick move, Tim Robbins). It’s a colorful image for someone you particularly dislike.

3. “Go fight a Sarlacc.” How are you gonna fight a Sarlacc? Boba Fett couldn’t. Good luck with that, bruh.

4. “Go orbit a black hole.” For people who don’t know science, this could sound a lot less unpleasant than it would turn out being – you don’t actually orbit a black hole, per se, you just keep getting sucked in by its gravity in a spiral until eventually you near the center and it crushes you. You could also phrase this as “I hope the trajectory of your life nears an event horizon” and just watch their faces go sour because they don’t get it.

5. “We don’t believe you, you need more people.” Jay Z knows best how to tell people they aren’t credible. I was thrilled to find out recently that I’m not the only one who uses this phrase in conversation or writing.

6. “UNACCEPTABLE!” But you have to say it like Lemongrab! If you lack the vocal characteristics to do so, just send someone this handy 10 minute UNACCEPTABLLLLLLLE!

7. “You know nothing, [insert name].” When people think of the best insults from Game of Thrones, it’s way too often that they cite “as useful as nipples on a breastplate.” OK, ha ha. But “You know nothing, Jon Snow” is way better: Ygritte’s unflinching conviction that Jon Snow completely lacks foresight or common senese exists despite the fact that she totally digs him in a love-way. It’s like saying, “I regret that I love you so much, because you’re being goddamn stupid.”

Whadda YOU got? I’m always looking for more.

Rebecca Vipond Brink is a writer, photographer, and traveler. You can follow her at @rebeccavbrink or on her blog, Flare and Fade.