This article suggests that being on CBS All Access could afford the makers of Star Trek: Discovery more freedom in the language they use.

Of course, we know that in previous series, they sometimes avoid the issue by swearing in Klingon, Romulan, or French. And, of course there is this line from Generations:

But ignoring the movies, what exactly is the strongest profanity used in a Star Trek television show to date?

Clarification: Profanity is meant to include all taboo language, generally known as and/or including vulgarities, obscenities, swear words, slurs, curse words or cussing.

  • 10
    Note: a good answer probably needs to offer a few options since words have different levels of profanity to different people. Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 20:04
  • 10
    How is it not a matter of opinion whether one cussword is "stronger" than another?
    – user14111
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 21:35
  • 1
    If you would include German and non-official Star Trek, there is a relatively famous fan dubbing called "Sinnlos im Weltraum". It's a mix of obscenity and a sort of "dadaism" (talking about total nonsense). Sound quality isn't too good, but it has a cult following in Germany, as it contrasts the very reasonable "normal" behaviour of TNG with its dubbing youtu.be/b709JRq_vgE?t=175 Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 0:44
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    @user14111 Yes, but there are statistics covering which cusswords cause the most offense. Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 3:07
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    @user14111 Some subjective questions are allowed, but “subjective” does not mean “anything goes”. However, this question could be improved by clarifying which set of cultural norms are meant to used to determine level of offense. USA? UK? Canada? Some other region or subset?
    – user31178
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 17:31

8 Answers 8


Some of this will depend on how you personally rate the offensiveness of the words:


  • Bloody, bollocks - Uttered by Miles O'Brien on a few episodes of DS9 (Also Scotty on "Relics")
  • Son of a bitch - Uttered by various characters in different episodes of Enterprise
  • Damn - Sprinkled liberally through all the ST variations
  • Hell - Confirmed in a transcript review from the comment by @magerber - City on the Edge of Forever (Last line)
  • nigger - As put forth in @Princess Ada's answer, DS9 used this slur in S06E13, "Beyond The Stars" (Added upon request).


  • Shit - Confirmed in a transcript review from the comment by @tim - Discovery episode 3.
  • Fuck - Confirmed in the newest episode of Discovery, (Season 1 Episode 5) as noted in comments and @thepopmachine in their answer.

There are, of course, other language ones (Merde comes immediately to mind) that have been said, but you limited it to English and television. Additionally, the context of it is cultural as well, as a common (everyday) phrase in the UK is "fuckin' hell", which carries much less stigma/gravitas than the same statement in the US regions.

Corroborating source: https://memory-alpha.fandom.com/wiki/Colorful_metaphor

  • 3
    Michael Burnham says "Oh shit" in episode 3 of Discovery.
    – Tim
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 20:35
  • @Tim - Thank you. Confirmed and updated.
    – JohnP
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 20:38
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    The word "hell" is used in "City on the Edge of Forever." I remember being really surprised as a kid that they had allowed Kirk to say "Let's get the hell out of here" on TV.
    – magerber
    Commented Oct 12, 2017 at 23:58
  • @Worse_Username Is CBS All Access what they were summoning? Or was the ritual satisfied by Voyager?
    – ench
    Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 17:48
  • A good answer, but apparently missing out the latest profanity from the most recent Discovery episode, which has set the Trek community ablaze.
    – user31178
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 18:38

Star Trek: Discovery episode 5, "Choose Your Pain" contains the following dialog after they come to understand how the tardigrade interacts with the space fungal network:

TILLY: You guys, this is so fucking cool. ...
[regarding the swearing] So sorry.

STAMETS: No, cadet. It is fucking cool.

Whether this is the strongest language used in any Star Trek television series so far, especially given the intent to express amazement, not offense, given the instance of the N word (see this answer) is a matter of opinion.

  • That's not the strongest profanity to me, especially in context of admiring somethnig. Since you asked the question and left this comment on it: "Note: a good answer probably needs to offer a few options since words have different levels of profanity to different people.", I was wondering why you didn't provide more background or other options before accepting?
    – user31178
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 18:35
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    @CreationEdge: Because the comment on requiring several options was predicated on the assumption that the answer would be somewhat in the ear of the beholder. But then they came around throwing the F word around (twice!) - which blows the others out of the water. If JohnP wishes to amend his answer to add it, I would accept. If future episodes of Discovery start throwing around e. the C or N words, then again it would become ambiguous and I would unaccept. But in the meantime, this is the clear unambiguous winner, and frankly, I think it is unlikely to change. But I guess we'll see. Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 20:08
  • Fair enough, but I'm not convinced it's unambiguous. Some sort of citation would help! :)
    – user31178
    Commented Oct 17, 2017 at 4:05
  • @ThePopMachine - I'm not sure we can safely agree on that, since, per Pricess Ada's answer, DS9 did use the 'N' word... Furthermore, also in DS9, O'Brien used "Bollocks", which may not be quite as strong as "Fuck" in absolute terms, but since he used it in anger rather than in admiration, it would present the argument that it that particular usage is possibly more profane.
    – komodosp
    Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 10:07
  • @colmde: I agree that the N word clouds whether this is the strongest profanity. Commented Aug 15, 2018 at 13:57

Deep Space Nine S06E13, Far Beyond the Stars. Captain Sisko has visions of life as a 1950s science fiction author struggling against racism while trying to sell a story about a black captain. The word “negro” is used repeatedly, but at one point Jimmy (Jake’s double in this world) uses a stronger N-word:

CASSIE: I'm sorry they didn't buy your story, baby. Really I am.

JIMMY: I told you you were wasting your time. A coloured captain. The only reason they'll ever let us in space is if they need someone to shine their shoes. Ain't that right, Cassie?

CASSIE: I don't know, and to be honest I don't much care what happens a hundred years from now. It's today that matters.

JIMMY: Well, I've got news for you. Today or a hundred years from now, it don't make a bit of difference. As far as they're concerned, we'll always be niggers.

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    Is it still a profanity when used by a black person in a 50s context?
    – ths
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 11:16
  • 2
    @ths: Yes. While context in use matters, the term was obviously used for the shock value and the expected reactions of the then-modern audiences. If it had been filmed and aired in the '50s, it would have simply been dialog. Filmed and aired in the '90s, it was profanity. Languages change over time.
    – Jeff
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 20:28

Voyager, S3: E26

Leonardo da Vinci's hologram exclaims "Che cazzo". "Cazzo" is the strongest, grossest word that can be used in Italian to refer to a penis. Can't think of any stronger profanity, aside from directly cursing God.


The following two profanities occur in Star Trek: Picard Season 1, episode 2, "Maps and Legends"

Since they are both spoken in anger, they can be considered stronger than the "fucking cool" reference from Discovery

enter image description here Note: while the closed captions say fuckers, the Irish actor actually says feckers. YMMV on whether that's equivalent and how strong a profanity that is.)

enter image description here

  • 1
    I can't find the link at the moment, but the first caption is incorrect. The script was written as "cheeky bastards" and the actress asked to change it on set to "fekers" (an Irish term, as the actress is of Irish background) according to the producers
    – NKCampbell
    Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 15:00
  • @NKCampbell, well, yeah, I heard it that way, but I figured it just counted as a regional pronunciation for fucker, so it still counts, and since the closed captioning says fucker, I just left it. Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 3:02
  • I missed the line by Orla Brady (Laris) (I thought I heard "beggars"), but the admiral dropped the f-bomb very clearly.
    – Anthony X
    Commented Feb 1, 2020 at 4:31
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    Almost too funny: Watching the re-broadcast on Canada's sci-fi channel (6PM EST timeslot), the f-bomb was muted out (both lines). Both were audible in the 3AM Friday broadcast.
    – Anthony X
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 0:00
  • When i saw this scene all i could think of was just how much trouble this admiral is gonna be in once Picard's information turns out to be true. LOL.
    – MrInfinity
    Commented Feb 2, 2020 at 1:42

In TNG Episode 2x03 Elementary, Dear Data, Captain Jean-Luc Picard is heard saying


which is the French word for Shit.

Besides being a curse, it is not just a gratuitous one: fitting with the acculturated background of Picard, this swear also has an historical significance.

This word was, in fact, reported to be exclamated by Pierre Cambronne, a General of the Napoleonic Empire, at the Battle of Waterloo.

  • A swearword, but certainly not the strongest and also mentioned in another answer.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 10:30
  • How does one measure the strength of such words? It's rather subjective I think.
    – Sekhemty
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 14:08
  • in English "Shit" is rated as being far less vulgar than "Fuck"; indy100.com/article/british-swear-words-ranked-ofcom-7340446. The same is true in French.
    – Valorum
    Commented Dec 30, 2019 at 15:20
  • The French "merde" very common, and its usage is closer to the English "crap" or "poop". Commented Jan 31, 2020 at 14:14

Based on this clarification:

Profanity is meant to include all taboo language

I believe spoonhead fits. It seems around on-par with "negro", "chink", and other such slurs that are based on appearance.

It was originally included as a Bajoran insult for Cardassians, but in DS9 5x24, Empok Nor, it was used by a member of Starfleet.

There's another term, Cardie, that's been used plenty of times by O'Brien as well. Although it is said to be an offensive term, since it's just a shortened form of "Cardassian", I'm not sure it really counts as a slur.

  • 2
    These are also not taboo terms in modern English, regardless of how profane they may be considered in the 24th century. Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 3:06
  • I thought it would be obvious from the context of the linked article, and from the fact I excluded other languages, that I also wasn't really interested in made up insults that aren't actually offensive to any viewers. This would fit better as an answer to some other question. Commented Oct 13, 2017 at 13:22
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    I don't see how "Cardie" being "just a shortened form of 'Cardassian'" keeps it from being a slur. By that logic, "Jap" is not a slur.
    – user14111
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 4:58

In Star Trek: Discovery, in Season 1 Episode 5 ('Choose Your Pain'), the word "fucking" was dropped twice. I was shocked to be honest; they really seemed to want to take the show in a different direction.

  • 8
    This answer would be better with citations, or at least proper English instead of txtspk.
    – anon
    Commented Oct 16, 2017 at 3:54

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