Raunch Review: Wizard of Oz

Raunch Reviews is a series about profanity. Not real profanity, but speculative swearing. Authors often try to incorporate original, innovative forms of profanity into our own fantastical works as a way to expand the worlds we build. Sometimes we’re successful. Often we’re not. In this series, I examine the faux-profanity from various works of sci-fi and fantasy, judge their effectiveness, and rate them on an unscientific and purely subjective scale. This is Raunch Reviews, welcome.


The Author: L. Frank Baum

Work in Question: Wizard of Oz (Series)

The Profanity: “Hippikaloric”


Reviewing words or phrases played for laughs is always a little tricky. But L. Frank Baum’s use of “Hippikaloric” in Ozma of Oz—the third book in the Wizard of Oz series—arrived on the Raunch Review docket not because of its comedic nature but because of how it’s described. Let’s see the quote.

“When the bell rang a second time the King shouted angrily, “Smudge and blazes!” and at a third ring he screamed in a fury, “Hippikaloric!” which must be a dreadful word because we don’t know what it means.”

Ozma of Oz, L. Frank Baum

Clearly, it’s an expletive. We see it’s used as such, and we’re told it must be “dreadful.” But it’s also nonsense. The lack of knowledge by Baum and the reader removes any potential for effect. As it exists, it becomes a form of “symbol swearing,” where something is said, but it means nothing.

“&^%@!”

We can pretend it’s dreadful, but it’s no more dreadful than any random string of typographical symbols, and as faux-profanity, it’s a swing and a miss.

Final Score: 1.0


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Have a suggestion for Raunch Reviews? It can be any made-up slang word from a book, television show, or movie. You can email me directly with your recommendation or leave a comment below. I’ll need to spend time with the property before I’ll feel confident reviewing it, so give me a little time. I have a lot of books to read.