The Most Versatile Word in the English Language

Bob James
Bob James
Nov 28, 2018 · 4 min read

You can curse with it and critique with it.

There’s good and there’s bad, and though we won’t always give one, we’re almost always happy to take one.

Most of us will never eat it, despite that on occasion it may be suggested we do.

Most often it is expressed in a single expletive, in situations that may include, but are not limited to, hitting your thumb with a hammer, your financial accounts being hacked, or in the simple act of stepping in it. In situations such as these it is infinitely useful, for both native and non-native English speakers.

In contrast, we might gaze upon a night sky and all its starry multitudes, and whisper in reverence to the holiness of it.

Should the need arise to announce an impending bathroom visit, you might very well inform those in your immediate group that you have to take one.

To indicate surprise we point out its absence.

To indicate further surprise, use of the continuous form and the suffix -ing, together with the accusation that it is somehow being used against us, is common.

Disbelief mixed with contempt is commonly expressed with the variety specific to an uncastrated male bovine quadruped.

While people do on special occasions give one, it is more common not to give one, in which case we delight in a forthright pronouncement about how we don’t, in fact, give one. In this way we provide explanation as to how we could care less about what one or another person may have to say, and which is the opposite of the less common response of giving one.

We express disdain with the ironic suggestion that one could be given.

We express criticism for a particular thing or event by attributing all of its qualities to the thing, to the point where the thing, wholly and completely, becomes it.

On the other hand, we espouse approval of a particular strain of marijuana herb with the observation that this is some good variety.

Assurances of mental stability may be made by notifying friends and acquaintances that you’ve got all yours in one place. You could also do this without being of sound mind, but that would of course be the uncastrated male bovine variety (see above).

One may wish to show abundance or excess with the unlikely observation that it is everywhere.

If someone is not making any sense, it is very likely coming out of their mouth.

And if someone is practicing a deliberate deception, then they are most certainly full of it.

Scorn with a soupçon of derision is often expressed by informing a fictional detective that no amount of it is anywhere in the vicinity.

Sarcasm in the face of the obvious is expressed by noting its absence.

As is pointing out an absence of it in a place you might otherwise reasonably expect to find quite a bit of it, such as a field of cows.

Confirmation of your neighbors’ material wealth may be confirmed (or not) by an inquiry into whether or not the surprisingly massive amount of it that they’ve apparently accumulated is all theirs.

Concern over a predicament may be morosely expressed by informing people that you are in a substantial amount of it and that it is comparatively deep.

If you recently drank too much your face may bear some resemblance to it.

It might also be marked on a calendar as a reminder of when a particular strain of it is going down.

In matters that have gone awry or during events that have become unmanageable, it will more likely than not have hit the fan.

If someone is being unnecessarily difficult or belligerent, there is the distinct likelihood that they have substituted it for their head.

In extreme cases, such as profound meanness, a person may have replaced their entire being with a legitimate form of it.

It is also used to declare that what has recently passed — what you’ve just read, for example — was entirely truthful, by pointing out that where it might be thought there is some, there actually isn’t any.


Medium humor. Large laughs.

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