The old thinking: Swearing is trashy. (Just picture The Real Housewives of Atlanta.)
The new wisdom: Using your favorite four-letter word at the right time can alleviate pain. A recent study published in NeuroReport found that participants who immersed their hands in icy water and were allowed to shout expletives experienced significantly less prickly, numbing pain than when they repeated neutral words. Researchers speculate that cursing activates the stress response, boosting the body's pain threshold to deal with crisis.