September 02, 2015

Dirty Etymology: Fuck

I was reminded this morning—by a conversation which included the word "slut"—that I hadn't delved into a dirty etymology in a while. Is it possible that I haven't researched the word "fuck"? I've tackled "motherfucker." But that's not the same at all.

Okay. So here goes...

Not only does "fuck" have its own Wikipage, "flying fuck" does, too. (I find that delightful.)

Wiki believes the word dates to 1475, and states that "fuck" can be used as "a noun, a verb, an adjective or an adverb." Which, of course, made me think about writing a dirty grammar guide. Because my brain works like that.

Snopes has a page proving that "fuck" does not come from the acronyms "for unlawful carnal knowledge" or "fornication under consent of the king." (Not that I thought it did.) Apparently, there are many false etymologies for "fuck"—which made this post a little more daunting than I originally expected.

The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang states that fuck "almost certainly" comes from the root *peuk = "to prick."

(Oh, I love it. Have I done "prick" yet?)

Several sources stated that the first use of "fuck" was in code about the friars of Cambridge. When decoded, the line read: "They are not in heaven because the fuck the wives of Ely." (It's like reality TV—medieval style.)

"Fuck" is generally censored on radio and TV—although "motherfucker" and "cunt" are considered more offensive.

I just now tripped over the quote I use all the time: Fuck you, you fucking fuck. Apparently, this was featured in Blue Velvet (which I saw three times, but have almost no memory of).

An early-ish appearance of "fuck" in literature was Lady Chatterly's Lover (1928)—maybe this would be a possible sequel for our Bawdy Book Club. The Catcher in the Rye (1951) also features the word—which is one of the reasons that the classic stands at #13 in the most-banned books according to the ALA. Banned books make me crazy.

Type in "fuck" on Amazon, and you win 110,849 results. On Etsy, you'll find 7,919 items. But Google is the winner. Type in "fuck" and you will hit 459,000,000 results in a heartbeat.

We fucking love our "fuck," don't we?

Since this suits my attitude of late, I've decided to give a prize to a commenter on today's post. Yes, one lucky person will receive this "Zero Fucks Given" pencil. Because why the fuck not?


P.S. I checked my novella. I used "fuck" fifty times in Even Deeper. I think that shows some restraint. The novella goes live on September 7th. Thank you to the readers who have already purchased this indie title!


M.A. Robinson said...

So if someone gets a pencil for their use of the word "fuck," does that make it a fuck stick?

Jeremy Wright said...

Who doesn't love a good fuck!?

baddoggerel said...

Earlier this summer, Prince Philip told the photographer setting up the group to "just take the fucking picture." Or so I've heard.

Graydancer said...

Yeah, I do just want the pencil...but I was at a dungeon last night in Chicago which had your alphabetical covers as artwork on the walls. As lovely as Fetish is, wouldn't it be nice to live in an honest world where "F is for Fuck"?

Jim Scovill said...

I am not a fan of DHL's novels. What Edwardian England thought was shocking and scandolous I found trite and mundane.
I do like his shorter fiction and recommend "Love in the Ricks".