Canadians Hearing and Uttering Fewer Swear Words Than in 2019

Canadians aged 55 and over are more likely than their younger counterparts to say that they never alter the way they speak.  

Vancouver, BC [November 11, 2021] – Compared to two years ago, fewer adults in Canada say they are having conversations with people who swear, a new Research Co. poll has found.  

In the online survey of a representative national sample, 64% of Canadians say they hear their friends swear “frequently” or “occasionally” when they are engaged in conversation, down four points since a similar Research Co. poll conducted in April 2019.  

About half of Canadians say they listen to swear words “frequently” or “occasionally” when talking to strangers (50%, -5), relatives (49%, -5) and co-workers (48%, -4).  

When asked about their own use of swear words, almost half of Canadians (49%, -3) say they rely on this kind of language “frequently” or “occasionally” when they are conversing with friends.  

Fewer Canadians say they swear “frequently” or “occasionally” when chatting with relatives (36%, -4), co-workers (31%, -3) and strangers (17%, -6).  

Just over two-in-five residents of British Columbia (41%) say they “never” swear during conversations with relatives. The proportion is lower in Alberta (37%), Ontario (33%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (30%), Quebec (27%) and Atlantic Canada (26%).  

Ontario is home to the highest proportion of residents who “never” utter swear words around co-workers (45%), followed by Alberta (44%), British Columbia (41%), Quebec (40%), Atlantic Canada (39%) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (38%).  

“More than half of Canadians who supported the New Democratic Party (NDP) and the Conservative Party in the last federal election (52% and 51% respectively) say they swear frequently or occasionally when chatting with friends,” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “The proportion drops to 46% among those who voted for the Liberal Party.”  

Across the country, more than a third of Canadians (36%, -2) claim to always alter the way they speak to make sure they do not swear in public—including 39% of women.  

Practically half of Canadians (49%, +1) acknowledge that they sometimes alter the way they speak so as not to swear in front of certain people—a proportion that reaches 62% among those aged 18-to-34.

Only 14% of Canadians say they never alter the way they speak and do not worry if a curse word comes out—including 18% of Atlantic Canadians, 18% of residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba and 17% of Canadians aged 55 and over.

Results are based on an online study conducted from November 1 to November 3, 2021, among 800 adults in British Columbia. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in British Columbia. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is plus or minus 3.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20.

Find our data tables here and download the press release here. 

For more information on this poll, please contact:

Mario Canseco, President, Research Co.