More Canadians “Watching Their Mouth” in Public Conversations

Almost three-in-five say they “frequently” or “occasionally” swear when talking to friends.

Vancouver, BC [September 29, 2023] – More Canadians are making an effort to avoid uttering swear words in public, a new Research Co. poll has found.

In the online survey of a representative national sample, 44% of Canadians say they always alter the way they speak to make sure they do not swear in public, up eight points since a similar Research Co. poll conducted in November 2021.

The same proportion of Canadians (44%, -5) sometimes alter the way they speak so as not to swear in front of certain people, while 12% (-3) never alter the way they speak and do not worry if a curse word comes out.

“Canadians aged 35-to-54 are the least likely to always avoid swearing in public (38%),” says Mario Canseco, President of Research Co. “The proportions are higher among their counterparts aged 18-to-34 (46%) and aged 55 and over (48%).”

On a regional basis, residents of Ontario are the most likely to always watch their language in public (47%), followed by those in Alberta (46%), British Columbia (also 46%), Saskatchewan and Manitoba (43%), Quebec (41%) and Atlantic Canada (35%).

More than seven-in-ten Canadians (72%, +12) say they hear their friends swear “frequently” or “occasionally”. There are also slight increases in the proportion of Canadians who are exposed to curse words in conversations with relatives (55%, +6), co-workers (52%, +4) and strangers (also 52%, +2).

Almost three-in-five Canadians (58%, +9) acknowledge relying on swear words “frequently” or “occasionally” themselves when talking to friends. The numbers are lower when it comes to the personal use of swear words in chats with relatives (43%, +7), co-workers (39%, +8) and strangers (26%, +9).

Canadians who voted for the New Democratic Party (NDP) in the 2021 federal election are more likely to use swear words “frequently” or “occasionally” when talking with friends (68%) than those who cast ballots for the Liberal Party (60%) or the Conservative Party (52%).

An open-ended question sought to collect the swear words that Canadians say the most. Two-in-five respondents wrote “f*ck” (40%), while just under a quarter (23%) chose “sh*t” or “m*rd*”. Just under one-in-five Canadians (17%) claim to not say any swear words.

Methodology: Results are based on an online study conducted from September 20 to September 22, 2023, among 1,000 adults in Canada. The data has been statistically weighted according to Canadian census figures for age, gender and region in Canada. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is plus or minus 3.1 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.

778.929.0490 [e]