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"Smeg" is a mild vulgarism which reached prominence through its use as a supposedly inoffensive expletive in the British science fiction situation comedy Red Dwarf. The word was used to replace almost every vulgar term used in the show's conversations, with the exception of the very mild. Additionally, the word itself had many variants, including "smegging" and "smeghead"[1]. Indeed, the versatility of the word was epitomised in the Series III episode "Bodyswap":

LISTER: "Oh Smeg. What the smegging smeg's he smegging done?"
Taken from the "Red Dwarf: Smeg Outs" VHS (1995)

The show's creators (Grant Naylor) have stated it was not related to a medical term and was a made up swear word. The show has consistently claimed to know nothing of the word "smegma" (A whitish sebaceous secretion that collects between the glans penis and foreskin or in the vulva), and that "smeg" was entirely made up, sounding as it did like a generic, four-letter, single-syllable swear-word that might be used in the future (and so could be used in the programme in place of swear words that, at the time, would not usually be used in mainstream sitcoms).

Lexicographer Tony Thorne, in his 1990 Dictionary of Contemporary Slang (ISBN 0-7475-2856-X), reports instances of "smeg" (and derivatives) being used as a term of "mild contempt and even affection" among "schoolboys, students and punks" as early as the mid-1970s — a decade or so prior to the inception of the Red Dwarf phenomenon — and claims unequivocally that the etymology of the term traces back to "smegma".

In the "Let's Swear" item in Bachelor Boys, the Young Ones book, the character Rick, played by Rik Mayall, calls another character "smeg face".

"Smeg" is also the name of a manufacturer of electrical appliances, notably fridge freezers.


See also



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