The phrase Expletive Deleted refers to profanity which has been censored by the author or by a subsequent censor. It became popular when transcripts of Richard Nixon's internal tapes were made public. The phrase was put into the court record when the notoriously profanity-laced discussions with H. R. "Bob" Haldeman and other Watergate insiders went beyond the bounds of common decency. The phrase entered the public imagination to the point where protestors outside the White House held up picket signs reading, "IMPEACH THE (EXPLETIVE DELETED)!" As the tapes were declassified over the years, and clips of them were aired on television for documentaries, the word "goddamned" appeared to account for a majority of the references to "Expletive Deleted."
The term expletive is commonly used outside linguistics to refer to any "bad language" (or "profanity"), used with or without meaning. Expletives in this wide sense may be adjectives, adverbs, nouns or, most commonly, interjections, or (rarely) verbs.
- ↑ "Nixon Ordered Tapes Destroyed". The Washington Post. October 30, 1997. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/nixon/103097tapes.htm. Retrieved March 18, 2007.
- ↑ "National Archives Nixon Transcripts". The Washington Post. December 5, 1996. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/national/longterm/nixon/trans.htm. Retrieved March 18, 2007.
- ↑ Language Log: Discussion of Nixon's use of profanity