Swearing really can relieve pain but only for the polite who don't curse often, researchers have found.
Reserving your use of bad language for when you hit your thumb with a hammer or drop a box on your foot is the best way to get maximum relief from a burst of swearing, it was found.
Researchers at Keele University found that people who do not often swear in their everyday life could hold their hands in ice-cold water for longer when they did succumb to foul language than those who regularly pepper their conversations with curse words.
Swearing often 'watered down' its pain relieving effects, the scientists said.
People who did not swear regularly could hold their hands in the ice water for 140 seconds when they swore, twice as long as when they used a neutral word.
However people who usually swore up to 60 times a day could only hold their hands in the water for 120 seconds when they used foul language – the same as when they used a neutral word.