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I can't believe I lost my fucking ear!' Now, I'm not a big proponent of the "F" word (...) but this was a special occasion and it cried out for a strong expletive. In fact, without the "F" word, that sentence just isn't as impressive, is it?
—Mick Foley, in his autobiography Have a Nice Day! A Tale of Blood and Sweatsocks.
Let's face it: people swear. However, some movies have a tendency to overdo it. Sometimes it can be pulled off, and sometimes it just sounds stupid. The Precision F Strike is the opposite of this. Put simply, it's where swearing has been used effectively to add weight to the sentence. The most common way of doing this is when a normally non-swearing character swears, meaning that things have just gotten really fucking serious.
Another variant is when a movie limits its swearing in order to keep from getting an R rating, and so is forced to place it very strategically. If a movie uses the F-word more than two or three times, it can easily get an R rating. If it's used up to two or three times, each in a non-sexual context, it usually stays PG-13.
Also, when Unusual Euphemism is normally in play in a work, having "real" oaths appear can have the same effect.
Due to the nature of language, this trope very quickly leads to Values Dissonance depending on cultural differences. "Bloody", "cunt" and "twat", just to name a few words, have very different connotations on both sides of the Atlantic. And that's just the differences within one single language. (For example: In Dutch, no one would bat an eye at the English "shit", and few eyebrows are raised by "fuck", "hell" or even "cunt". The Dutch word for "cancer" (kanker), however, is considered the single most offensive curse word in the entire language, and will never be heard on television unless it's... well, a Precision K-Strike, so to speak.) While like many other English words, the word "fucking" exists with only a minor variation in German (ficken), it's only used as a verb and almost never as a curse word, which results in quite a number of blind idiot translations that just sound weird. (The word "shit" (Scheiße) and its variations are almost always used in exactly the same way as the word "fuck" in English.)
In some languages, however, expletives do not actually exist, or are so uncommonly used and/or offensive that they are not allowed on television/radio/etc. Seemingly equivalent words may be used similarly, but without the impact of an actual expletive (for example, the direct Japanese equivalent of "shit" (kuso) is often used in children's shows by child characters without raising alarm) These languages may have levels of politeness which serve the same purpose (again, Japanese), and translations often take advantage of the dub/sub language's expletives to give the same feeling. For subtitles, this crosses over into Spice Up the Subtitles, unless the expletive used by the translator actually is said in the dialogue, as is known to happen. Intersection of Sophisticated As Hell and Conservation of Ninjitsu; related to OOC Is Serious Business.
Contrast with the Cluster F-Bomb.
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- "wanker," "fanny," "hobknocker"
- Is considered only slightly more offensive than saying "crap" or "oh, poop" in English
- Dutch puritans will forgo these three in exchange for increased use of "shit"