Friday, December 08, 2006

The dreaded "F" word!
I was surfing around on the web the other day and thought I'd see if I could find the origins of the "F" word.
I found some interesting things. For instance, the word is supposedly an acronym variously rendered as:
Fornication Under Consent of the King
Fornication Under Charles the King
Fornication Under Crown of the King
Fornication under Christ, King
Forbidden Under Charter of the King (a sign posted on brothels closed by the Crown)
For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
Forced Unlawful Carnal Knowledge
File Under Carnal Knowledge (how Scotland Yard marked rape files).

The two most common acronyms are: Fornication Under Consent of the King, and For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge.
Now, it might make sense that the first is correct. After all, maybe couple really did need the King's permission to procreate back in the day, but I kind a doubt it. People have a tendency to ummm, well, you know, f--k like rabbits and breed indiscriminately, so I seriously doubt that anyone actually awaited the King's consent.
The second refers to unlawful fornication, such as rape, child molestation and adultery. Such crimes were generally punished by the stocks and supposedly the perpetrators were forced to wear a sign around their necks bearing the acronym F--K, But, this too is a myth. Folks in stocks did indeed wear signs around their necks, but the For was not included. The sign would simply say, rape, adultery, stealing a cow or what have you, but not For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. That sign simply would have said, unlawful carnal knowledge.
So, obviously the word did not come to us from an acronym. So, where did it come from?
According to alt.usage.english FAQ,
[Fuck] is a very old word, recorded in English since the 15th century (few acronyms predate the 20th century), with cognates in other Germanic languages. The Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang (Random House, 1994, ISBN 0-394-54427-7) cites Middle Dutch fokken = "to thrust, copulate with"; Norwegian dialect fukka = "to copulate"; and Swedish dialect focka = "to strike, push, copulate" and fock = "penis". Although German ficken may enter the picture somehow, it is problematic in having e-grade, or umlaut, where all the others have o-grade or zero-grade of the vowel.
AHD1, following Pokorny, derived "feud", "fey", "fickle", "foe", and "fuck" from an Indo-European root peig2 = "hostile"; but AHD2 and AHD3 have dropped this connection for "fuck" and give no pre-Germanic etymon for it. Eric Partridge, in the 7th edition of Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (Macmillan, 1970), said that "fuck" "almost certainly" comes from the Indo-European root *peuk- = "to prick" (which is the source of the English words "compunction", "expunge", "impugn", "poignant", "point", "pounce", "pugilist", "punctuate", "puncture", "pungent", and "pygmy"). Robert Claiborne, in The Roots of English: A Reader's Handbook of Word Origin (Times, 1989) agrees that this is "probably" the etymon. Problems with such theories include a distribution that suggests a North-Sea Germanic areal form rather than an inherited one; the murkiness of the phonetic relations; and the fact that no alleged cognate outside Germanic has sexual connotations.

So, it appears the word is German in it's origins. But, origins aside, let us consider the word itself.
Is it a verb? As in "Go f--k yourself?" Perhaps, because it certainly does describe an action.
But, it can also be a noun as in, "He is such a f--k." Which pretty much describes a lot of men.
It is also used as an adjective, as in , "That is so f--king cool." describing how cool a thing is.
Well, whatever the meaning, whatever the tense, whatever the usage, it is perhaps the single most widely used curse word in any language!
I myself have used it quite frequently, and colorfully.
I have a friend, Sandy Lender who coined a new phrase with it. For assholes she finds overbearing and stupid, it is f--ktards! Excellent word and certainly brings to mind an officious little bastard quite clearly.
Frankly, I am amazed at the people who use the word. Actors, of course, and professional wrestlers, football players, baseball players, basketball players, coaches on the sidelines certainly, but also, Senators, Congressmen, Vice Presidents, Presidents, ( and some even do it in the Oval office) professionals, lawyers, cops, harried housewives and husbands. Even little old ladies and gentlemen have let it fly from time to time.
Why? Because let's face it, it is beyond a doubt the only word that adequately describes any given situation at any given time.
So, why is is considered a curse word and the grand dame of all curse words at that?
I think I'll start a petition to have the word included in Webster's next year as a verb, adverb, adjective and noun. After all, if everybody is saying it, how bad can it actually be?
Have a great day, y'all!


Dorothy said...

LOL, cute post, Linda. I can remember a time when if I said "fart," my mouth would have been washed out with soap. I say fuck maybe too much. I think the more we say it and the more we publicly tell people we say it, the more it will become just an everyday word. LOL, this is cracking me up.

unwriter said...

A word is only as 'dirty' as polite usage defines it to be. It has developed into a word with carnal meaning. It's just another four letter word.

Jeni said...

Because of the era of my youth, the way I was raised, this word was completely off limits! I was probably 31-32 years old before I used it freely - other than in the context of a joke and then, I would usually just indicate it was the "F word."

But once you use it, there seems to be no stopping. Maybe it is because of all the social junk against curse words, but it is so versatile and also, it truly does give much catharsis when you say it - be it under your breath or aloud. Works best though when you shout it out and it bounces back at you in an echo!

Theresa Chaze, Wiccan Writer said...

Linda, you are right. Sometimes Fuck is the only word that adequately decribes a person, place or event. It's amazing how easily some people get their panties in a knot over something so little. I had a Philosophy professor who once pointed out that every word has three definitions--the one in the dictionary, common usage, and implied. The example he used is chair. It's just as easy to say what the chair or chair off and it would mean the same. Instead of being anal about a word maybe they should be more concerned about what is actually being said.

gale said...

Linda,fantastic! So much research I really learned alot about one of the words that got a bar of phels naptha jammed in my mouth!!

Thanks Love Ya

Anonymous said...; You saved my day again.

Anonymous said...

You have got to see this. Obama playing on XBox. Funniest video ever.