The year 2012 saw several epic clashes between titans. Barack Obama triumphed over Mitt Romney in a hard-fought presidential election; the New York Giants beat the New England Patriots in a classic Super Bowl; "The Avengers" topped "The Dark Knight Rises" as the year's highest-grossing film.
Now we have the results of another monumental battle between goliaths: A yearlong survey from the email utility Cue has revealed that "shit" defeated "fuck" as the most popular email swear word of 2012. According to the findings, which were compiled by scanning the inboxes of a broad cross-section of Cue users, "shit" accounted for 41 percent of all emailed curse words during 2012, compared to 37 percent for "fuck."
"Damn" came in third place at 15 percent, while "bitch" trailed in fourth at 6 percent.
Among other conclusions from the Cue survey: The most popular emoticon of the year was :), making up over 50 percent of all emailed emoticons; :-) and ;) lagged behind in a distant second and third. The most mentioned animal in email of 2012 was the dog at 38 percent, beating out arch-nemesis the cat at 32 percent.
On a more serious note, the average emailer (who uses Cue) composed 41,368 words in 2012 -- that's about 3,000 words more than the entirety of Conrad's "Heart of Darkness." Also, the typical emailer seems to be dealing with a large deficit: The average Cue user received 5,579 messages over 2012 while sending just 869.
Cue, if you're wondering, is an app for the iPhone and your computer that aggregates your email, calendar and social networks and tries to surface the important information in a more readable, manageable way. The service launched in June of last year, as an update to the (more mysteriously named) app Greplin. (The survey used Greplin and Cue data.)
Though it ranked below "shit" in Cue's survey, there is some consolation for the F word. Users of Cue do not necessarily represent the entire American population, so the results could be skewed. And, too, Google Trends reveals that "fuck" was searched for far more often than "shit" in 2012, and the competition between the two grandaddies of profanity really isn't even close. The wide discrepancy between Cue's email finding and Google's analytics suggests that "shit" is something you share between friends, and "fuck" is something you look for on your own.
Anyway, as we begin 2013, we wish a hearty congratulations to "shit," ":)" and the dog, the winners of Cue's first year-end rundown of the words and symbols we use most in our email. Better luck next year to all the a**h**** who came in second.