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Jeeve Ceeta: I've been in the military for twenty five years, Ennesby. There's nothing you can teach me about nasty messages.


Captain Tagon: I see you've just been exposed to Ennesby's weapons-grade vocabulary.

'Jevee Ceeta: My stomach is in my throat right now. It's trying to spit acid on the parts of my brain that remember reading his message.

  What the hell are we supposed to use, man? Harsh language?

There's talking, insults, fighting words... and then there's weapons-grade vocabulary.

There's a saying that sticks and stones can break your bones, but words will never hurt you. Well, with a weapons-grade vocabulary, words actually can physically hurt people. The words do not have to be spoken aloud, but can be read as the example provided by the Trope Namer shows. Hurtful knowledge, like a long-held secret, can apply long so the recipient is physically hurt by the literal spoken or written words. Words delivering harm via magic, or through sheer volume do not apply.

If the damage is done by magic, it's Words Can Break My Bones. If it's convincing another character or monster to hurt/kill themselves it's Talking the Monster to Death. Compare with Brown Note which is merely sound or image, not content. If it's a visual metaphor for the words hurting people (usually psychologically), then it's closer to Harsh Word Impact.

Examples of Weapons Grade Vocabulary include:

Anime and Manga

  • Levy Macgarden of Fairy Tail has her entire magical arsenal based on this trope. Her magical specialty sort of lampshades this trope as it's known as Solid Script in universe.
    • The same magic is known by a generic mook of the dark guild Grimoire Heart, but his script come out as written kanji, and is no less effective or dangerous than Levy's magic.
  • Dr. Slump: Arale's boisterous greetings create a Written Sound Effect that can knock people over.

Comic Books

  • There was an issue of The Authority where Apollo and Midnighter were trying to stop the deaths caused by a killer word: anyone who heard it would kill themselves, but not before whispering the word to someone else, repeating the process.
  • Grant Morrison has pretty much built his career on comics involving "words that kill" (Doom Patrol) and "words that are things rather than describe things" (The Invisibles). One letter from the "invisible alphabet" can make some people throw up. (The letter tripleyou.)


  • Monty Python and The Holy Grail: Ni!
    • Turned around on the knights, later. They are drained of their will by the word "it".
      • Oddly enough, the knight says it at the top of the scene with no harm done, but then hits himself with it for damage during the fadeout.
  • In South Park: Bigger, Longer and Uncut, Cartman has a chip placed inside him that shocks him with electricity every time he swears. When he's hit with electricity in the final battle, the V-chip "malfunctions", giving him the ability to shock other people when he uses profanity. Which he immediately uses against Saddam Hussein. (Hilariously, the words "Barbra Streisand" are the cherry-on-top.)


 Goddam looked mournful. "I know how it is," he said. "I was in the war. Pinned down in a deadly hail of Jap fire..."

Spam gagged, and his arm went limp.

  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy has Vogon poetry, which makes the listeners seriously ill or worse. It is advised to take some other option than that.
  • The late Alderman Foodbotham, one-time Lord Mayor of Bradford in the Peter Simple newspaper columns, has many legends told of him. One such relates how he delivered a speech that literally annihilated his opponent -- "at least to the extent that he disappeared from view and all that was ever seen of him again was a single trouser button picked up months later on Cleckheaton Moor."
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld: Lord Vetinari, a product of the Assassins' Guild School where every graduate is expected to demonstrate lethal proficiency in at least one weapon, uses language to deadly effect.

 Do not let me detain you.

No great rush!

Live Action TV

Tabletop Games

  • The Toon expansion Toon Tales (in the Way-Out West section) includes an optional rule for Punslingers, whose puns actually do damage.
  • The Munchkin card "Cutting Remark".
  • The unusual example of hurting yourself by speaking: The supplement Book of Vile Darkness also contains "dark speech" - a language so vile, it is impossible to actually communicate with it; with proper preparation you can tie it into magical effects but trying to just straight utter the words would make your mouth bleed.
    • Also in the Book of Vile Darkness was a quiver that created arrows for you every time you lied.
  • In the Fourth Edition of Dungeons and Dragons, bards have an at-will "spell" called Vicious Mockery, which inflicts damage and status effects. Some bard players will use insult generators every time they use this attack.
  • Pathfinder has the "Blistering Invective" spell, with which your rants can actually set people on fire!

Video Games

  • In Mario and Luigi Superstar Saga, Peach's actually Birdo's voice is stolen and replaced with Cackletta's explosive vocabulary.
    • The characters keep having to scurry out of harms way whenever she speaks. Then she attempts a full paragraph, and blows out every window in the palace.
  • There is a Megaphone weapon in Parodius, where the attack is nonsense phrases such as "SHAVING IS BORING" coming out of your spaceship.
  • There's several sound-based attacks in the Pokémon series, varying in type between Make Me Wanna Shout, Brown Note and this.
    • An example of this type is 'Snarl', a dark-type attack that seemingly involves the pokémon ranting and shouting at the target for a while, inflicting damage and lowering their attack-power.
  • In Ace Attorney, particularly clever counterpoints apparently have the ability to hit opposing attorneys like a gale-force wind, throwing them back, making them flinch, shattering their glasses, and, in one particularly devastating case, tearing all the hair off a person's head, leaving him mostly bald.
  • Mediators in Final Fantasy Tactics usually talk the monster to death or manipulate their stats with speech skills, but they can also equip dictionaries which they read from; reading from them (somehow) hurts enemies.
    • The in-game animation shows them simply opening the book to inflict pain, so it could be a case of literally weapons-grade words.
  • In The Secret of Monkey Island (and other games in the series), "insult swordfighting" involves providing snappy comebacks to your opponent's insults in order to win duels.
    • Escape from Monkey Island features insult arm-wrestling, and reveals that the paradigm has also been applied to loads of other competitive games and activities, such as darts.
  • In MOTHER 1, enemies can "attack" with Threatening Words and Swear Words, both of which decrease someone's Fight stat. Your party can get some words of their own to "attack" with, but they do nothing.
  • Kliff Undersn's taunt in Guilty Gear creates physical letters, which bounce across the screen and inflict some damage. Knockouts with this in tournament play have become a particularly humiliating form of Cherry Tapping.
  • The magic system in Treasure of the Rudras is set up so that you can actually create spells with words ("FIRE" becomes a fireball, "HEAL" becomes a healing spell, etc.). However, if you create a spell with a word that isn't in the game's magic dictionary, you'll instead attack your enemy with the word you created.

Web Comics

 Black Mage: Astos? Mo' like your ass is toast.

  • Vexxarr: Weapons grade pleading?
  • Spacetrawler: One guest comic depicts a "Grwfl-grwfl" joke so hilarious that it causes its hearer's head to explode. An entire joke-obsessed species is listening via radio, eagerly anticipating the funniest joke ever--and they're completely wiped out in seconds. (Fortunately for the rest of the galaxy, the punchline relies on terminology that died with that species, so it has no effect on anyone else.)
  • Dragon Tails: Corlis typically make a cutting remark, witty retort or sarcasm in whatever events that's happened, but his attempt to use his jokes as this in this strip resulted in a failure, as robots simply removed their speech recognition modules.
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