California Supreme Court on Offensive Speech

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Apr 21 01:07:42 UTC 2006

On 4/20/06, Baker, John <JMB at> wrote:
>                 9 Of course, explicit sexual references typically were
> replaced with innuendos, imagery, similes, allusions, puns, or
> metaphors in order to convey sexual themes in a form suitable for
> broadcast on network television. For example, "motherfucker" was
> replaced with "mother kisser," "testicles" with "balls," and "anal
> sex" with "in the stern.">>
>         Can this be right?  You can't say "testicles" on network TV, but
> "balls" is acceptable as a euphemism?

The "Friends" writers did use both "mother kisser" and "in the stern",
but both "testicles" and "balls" were apparently acceptable on the

1004 - The One With The Cake
Judy: (to Monica) I remember your first birthday! Ross was jealous of
all the attention we were giving you. He pulled on his testicles so
hard! We had to take him to the emergency room!
1005 - The One Where Rachel's Sister Babysits
Phoebe: That woman at the game didn't know what she was talking about.
Mike, obviously you have balls.
Mike: (puts on a fake smile) Where else would lame Mr. No Balls hide it?
1015 - The One Where Estelle Dies
Monica: Okay, but if we don't get this house, she's stil gonna show up
wherever we go! I mean, at least if she's here, it eliminates the
element of suprise. I mean, never again will you have to hear the
three words that make your balls jump back up inside your body.

Notably, all of these episodes were in the tenth and final season
(2003-04), so I guess standards had loosened up by then.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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