One origin story for fuck is that it comes from when sex was outlawed unless it was permitted explicitly by the king, so people who were legally banging had Fornication Under Consent of the King on their doors, or: F.U.C.K. But obviously that’s wrong. As are all of the other nonsensical acronyms floating about (anything ending in Carnal Knowledge uses words which wouldn’t be used until AFTER the contents of this blog post). So if you do believe any of that, stop it. Stop it right now.
But right now there’s a post going round with a lovely image of a manuscript from Brasenose College, Oxford, proudly declaring it’s the earliest instance of fuck in English (although, it notes, that is apart from that pesky one from Scotland and that one that says fuck but is written in code). But even if we DO agree to discount those two little exceptions, it’s still not the earliest instance. I think the Brasenose fuck was considered the earliest in 1993, and that’s quite out-dated now.
So, for your enjoyment and workplace sniggering, here’s a potted history of fuck.
Instances of fuck before the fifteenth century are rare. Despite it commonly being classed as one of the Anglo-Saxon four-letter words, Jesse Sheidlower (author of an entire book on fuck, and past editor of the OED so he knows what he’s talking about) suspects that it came into English in the fifteenth century from something like Low German, Frisian or Dutch. While ‘fuck’ existed in English before then it was never used to mean rogering, instead it typically meant ‘to strike’ (which was, way-back-when, related to the word that became fuck because it’s a kind of hitting…). Anything that appears earlier is most likely to be the use of fuck to mean ‘to strike’. If you wanted to talk about making whoopee in a dirty way, the Middle English word to use was swive. [ETA: @earlymodernjohn asked if it’s related to Modern English ‘swivel’ as in ‘go swivel’ and it is! The more you know…]
Another theory for why there’s hardly any written record of fuck before the fifteenth century is because, if it was around before then, it was just too darn rude to write down. The coded example might have been an early way around actually writing it.
Another theory for its late arrival is that it’s a borrowing from Norse (the Vikings) via Scottish because several early instances are found in Scottish writing (such as the fifteenth-century one discounted in that other article). However, this is generally believed to be unlikely, in part because the Scottish weren’t considered influential enough for English to borrow words from them. Perhaps there were more early written examples in Scottish simply because they were less prudish about writing it.
There are lots of instances of the word fuck from before the fifteenth century drifting around, some of the most notable of which are, chronologically:
John Le Fucker (supposedly from 1278) – While excellent, this name is probably apocryphal. Since it was first written about no-one’s been able to find it and it’s generally assumed to be a mis-reading, perhaps of Tucker, or a variant on fulcher, meaning ‘soldier’. Disappointing.
Fuckebegger (1286/7) it appears as part of the surname of one of Edward I’s palfreymen. Marc Morris posted this excellent photo on Twitter:
However, this is generally assumed to mean ‘to strike’ and can be compared with the Anglo-Norman surname Butevilein meaning ‘to strike the churl or wretch’ (‘vilein’ being related to the English villain which originally meant a person of a lower status).
The place-names Ric Wyndfuk and Ric Wyndfuck de Wodehous (which sounds like a brilliant place to live), both of which are found near Sherwood Forest in a document from 1287. These use the bird-name Windfucker (first cited 1599) which may or may not have something to do with making the beast with two backs. The OED veers towards yes, probably, it’s a kestrel which majestically mounts the wind. So the place-names here kind of have fuck in them by a circuitous route and are possibly the earliest instance of fuck in English.
Simon Fukkebotere and Willm’i Smalfuk (Ipswich, c. 1290). Simon’s ‘fuck’ is almost definitely being used to mean ‘to strike’ and describes his trade, which, I know, is hugely disappointing. Who wants ‘hit-butter’ when you could have ‘fuck-butter’?? William’s ‘fuck’ is a new one and it’s probably related to a fukke, a type of sail first cited in 1465. Sorry.
EDIT [15th Sept 2015]: Roger Fuckebythenavele (1310) A new discovery! I spoke to Vox about it here.
Fockynggroue – Another place-name, from Bristol in 1373. This was shown in 2007 quite persuasively to be the earliest instance of fuck in English used to mean doing the funny downstairs business. It’s a name akin to Lovegrove rather than one which uses the Old English personal name Focca which appears in the place-name Fockbury, or from Old English Folca as in Folkestone. While the instances before this are possibly to do with getting down and nasty, this one’s pretty conclusive, and predates the Fucking Abbot by 155 years.
The coded poem mentioned above from 1475 called Fleas, Flies and Friars in which ‘fucking’ appears as follows:
Non sunt in celi
quia gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk
Which, decoded reads: ‘fuccant uuiuys of heli’
‘They [the friars] are not in Heaven because they fuck (the) women of Ely’ (which might be interpreted as a pun on ‘Hell’).
The following are the earliest citations in the OED:
1513 – W. Dunbar Poems, Scottish, ‘Be his feirris he wald haue fukkit’.
The Fucking Abbot (1528) isn’t even the earliest citation that’s widely talked about, predated by ten years by Dunbar, which the link discounts as not being in English, despite appearing in the Oxford English Dictionary.
[THE FUCKING ABBOT COMES HERE IN THE CHRONOLOGY]
1663 – Richard Head, Hic et Ubique: or, The Humors of Dublin. A comedy, ‘I did creep in..and there I did see putting [sic] the great fuck upon my weef.’ I’ve included this even though it’s quite late because I really like saying ‘the great fuck upon my weef’. And because it’s written by a man called Richard Head. RICHARD. HEAD.
And in 1680 by John Wilmot, 2nd Earl of Rochester in a book of what sounds like LOVELY poems: ‘Thus was I Rook’d of Twelve substantial Fucks’.
So, I think we can definitely say there’s at least three, possibly four earlier instances of fuck in English before the Fucking Abbot. Sorry dude.
EDIT: I wrote about that ‘d’ here…
Keith Briggs, ‘Two Thirteenth-Century By-Names: Fukkebotere and Smalfuk’, Nomina (2012), 141-43
Richard Coates, ‘Fockynggroue in Bristol’, Notes and Queries (2007), 373-76
Marc Morris, @Longshanks <https://twitter.com/Longshanks1307/status/432856212363694080>
Jesse Sheidlower, The F-Word (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2009)
Edward Wilson, ‘A “Damned F—In Abbot” In 1528: The Earliest English Example Of A Four-Letter Word’, Notes and Queries (1993), 29-34
another enlightening and delightful post. Thanks for setting the record straight.
Great post, and I’m sure you’re right. But given the name of the current Prime Minister in Australia, I think the meme will continue to be popular here.
I don’t have a citation to back this up, but I was taught in my courses on Middle High German that it derived from the MHG ficken, “to rub or grind,” (from the Old Saxon root fickan, meaning a rapid movement back and forth, whence the modern English “fickle”), whence the modern German “ficken” as the equivalent of “fuck”.
That’s interesting but I’m not sure whether that’s wishful thinking? Modern English ‘fickle’ is from OE ‘ficol’ meaning ‘deceit’ (also related to the now obsolete ‘faken’ meaning wickedness, roughly), so isn’t related at all.
The modern German ‘ficken’ is possibly related to the various other Germanic words meaning ‘to strike’ which I mentioned in the post, although the OED is hesitant to concretely link them. It’s possible that all these words stem from the same Indo-European word and the meanings diverged.
You are correct.
Of course, the famous Bristolian fuckgroves, who could forget.
this article is dismally vague
Your mum’s dismally vague
Your comment made me laugh so hard.
Maybe a simple mistake? After all, S was often written as an F (the soft ‘S’) maybe it started out as Suck? We already have “You Sucker” , maybe we should be saying “Suck Off” Where the original suck comes from, well, I just can’t imagine.
The letters were different, they just look the same to modern eyes, and we do have plenty of evidence (particularly comparison with related languages, especially Germanic) that it was an F.
I see the fucking word’s Scottish origins are quicky discounted
Not quickly in the scholarship, I just summarised them briefly here. There is more evidence that it didn’t come from Scottish than that it did. The main strength of the pro-Scottish argument is that they were quicker to start writing it than England was, but that’s probably because they were less prudish!
Bear in mind Dunbar was very much an anglophile writer in what we call Scots or Scottis, heavily influenced by the cool new University scene at and around ‘Oxenford’, and this influence is not surprising when one considers he himself was writing and in a sense pioneering a rather modern popular tongue called Inglis (or English). The change in nomenclature was decreed around the time of the scoto-english diplomatic controversy culminating in the disaster at Flodden (16thC).
His concern for and illumination of b(aw/o)dy functions very much throws into the path of this discussion, and is very much OF the learned and bawdy culture of the upper Thames and Cam valleys…
Well, that’s all good but the original word emanated from the early English court system specifically poor bastards would have to attend the For Underage Carnal Knowledge summons and generally they thought they were fucked completely
For those of you interested in doing a little more research, I highly recommend Carl Darling Buck’s _A Dictionary of Selected Synonyms in the Principal Indo-European Languages_.
Hahahaha–f*ck, that was funny.
Please, please do ‘Bollocks’.
I always thought it was an acronym for “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge” (meaning “rape”).
Nope, that’s another unfounded urban legend, like Fornication Under Consent of the King. Sorry!
Me, too. Seemed to make sense!
My rule of thumb: if it’s pre-20thC, it ain’t derived from an acronym. I’ve certainly never seen such a theory that checked out. Not Gentlemen Only, Ladies Forbidden; not Ship High In Transit; not Port Out, Starboard Home… I love these stories, but they’re all Bunkum Of Lax Logic Or Commonsense and Known Silliness.
Bird watching would probably be much more popular if more birds had names like “Windfucker”.
Then again, bird names are often rather risque – Blue Boobies and Great Tits, anyone?
For fuck’s sake, will somebody solve this mystery!
The word “fuck”, like other four-letter words is an old Anglo-Saxon word (I thought that was common knowledge). After the Normans invaded England in 1066, the Anglo-Saxon words were looked upon as being common or “vulgar”. It is, however, not technically “swearing” as “swearing” originally meant to take the name of God in vain. As far as I know, it is still in the Oxford dictionary.
Hi, thanks for your comment. Although, as I said in the post, we have no evidence for it before these instances which I’ve discussed. Common belief is that it arrived in English AFTER the Anglo-Saxon period. We have no evidence at all of Anglo-Saxon swearing because all of the writing was done by monks. Later perception is just as likely to be Norman propaganda as it is fact, and I’d prefer to base my writing on scholarly research than ‘common knowledge’.
A years back I read somewhere, that the word fuck comes an Anglo-saxen word meaning to catch fish with a net.
Thanks for the illumination. Whatever its origins, it seems to me that its persistence in the language has to do with just how much fucking fun it is to say. Like a lot of profanity, it begins with a fricative—that nice hiss between lip and teeth—and ends with a stop, in the case of the F-word, at the back of the throat, almost like choking. The plosive nature of profanity is what makes it so effective. At least in English. If you’ve the inclination, you can read more about it here http://wp.me/pKFR7-1L.
‘Instances of fuck before the fifteenth century are rare.’
‘There are lots of instances of the word fuck from before the fifteenth century drifting around.’
Okie doke, thanks.
“While ‘fuck’ existed in English before then it was never used to mean rogering, instead it typically meant ‘to strike’”
This is going to bring new meaning to hearing characters in movies exclaim, “I’m going to fuck you up!”
This is the first article I’ve read from you. Must read more! Nice work. :-)
The word goes way, way back. There is no coincidence the originating word in latin starts with “fu,” and likely goes back to the Roman Empire. I expect the pronunciation of the expletive form changed over time, but the meaning never did. The etymology is likely all tied across the term’s meaning and functionality in prose, and became derogatory sometime during a war.
I’ve always thought the choice of “I’m going to fuck you up!” as two brutes square off to battle an odd choice of phrase considering the general sexual nature of the word. But this history lesson gives more credence to its use in that context versus any other.
“It has never made sense to me that the curse-word fuck was somehow related to the word for sexual intercourse. Of course it’s not related: the two words are homonyms. They look the same, sound the same and are spelt the same. But their origins are different – as different as the bill of a duck and the bill of rights. The curse-word may not be welcome at Grandma’s dinner-table, but it’s not obscene.”
That is the first paragraph (of eight paras) in a short blog-post of mine on the origin of the curse-word – titled “…and the horse you rode in on”, in “Barlow’s Cayman” September 2013. A later paragraph said,
“The curse-word is probably related to our word finger – fig, in some early Germanic dialects. One of my grandmothers used to say “I don’t care a fig for that!” In many religions – perhaps most – fingers are used by priests to convey approval. “Bless you, my child!” The sign of the Cross; hands clasped in prayer or greeting; a hand raised in salute or greeting; both hands raised in the gesture of peace. Did I say “hands”? I meant fingers. Even shaking hands with someone in greeting or farewell, or to seal a deal.”
It’s not unreasonable speculation – though it may be wrong, of course.
I’ve always heard the definition was Fornication Under Carnal Knowledge, which mea by sex with an unmarried woman.
Yes yes, I remember learning ficken in german class, as well as foutre in french (Espèce de connard de merde, vas te faire foutre avec ton trou du cul inutile!(pardon my french). I go to look up these interesting words in my Chambers dictionary of Etymology, and being an american tome, it has nothing at all colourful to glean and beglossed for my philological logophilical consumption. I mean, we are dealing with people whom have problems shewing arseholes on cats and ball sacks on dogs, even on drawings. It’s really quite infantile of them and jolly indecent of them to constantly be avoiding what is really there. Kind of like NASA obfuscating civilisation evidence from Mars orbital imagery. Even if they are awake, what they take in has to be dumbed down and out for their comfort and sense of being globally american. These are merely words, some of which are very old (cunt anyone?). It’s not the word (or arsehole, or other complementary oriface) that should have to be censured by them, but the actual context of how it is being used in a given situation.
Feel better, little man?
Ah, one of the people who uses an appearance in a derogatory manner – it’s akin to racism, you know. Do YOU feel better now?
What the hell?
Seriously. The Frisian/Dutch answer is boring but right. “Fokken” is the term for how animals do it, the equivalent of ‘breeding’ in English. It’s not a big leap.
As I said in the post – the word is connected to the Germanic languages, the debate is about WHEN it entered English, and my focus was not on addressing that question in detail, it was on highlighting some early examples in written English which are often overlooked.
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…it’s from Latin futuere. The Romans brought the word wherever they conquered, which in Europe was, well, everywhere. Even the act is called fuctutio.
Unfortunately, that won’t be how it arrived in English. If the words are connected, it’ll be through a common root stemming back to Indo-European. The prevalence of cognates in the Germanic languages shows that it’s unlikely to be a later Latin loanword. The focus on this post was not to answer the issue of its etymology, but to look at some fun early instances of the word in English.
Of course it didn’t come from Latin straight away, and of course it has a common root with the German ficken, and that probably from Indogerman. Even the bird reference is reinforced in that. It’s just that an article starting with “On the origin of…” tends to lead people to think it’ll be about, well, the origin, which is what etymology is, for words.
F.U.C.K.= Function Utilizing Carnal Knowledge
As I alluded to in the first paragraph, there are a lot of acronym origin myths floating about and there’s no logic behind any of them. Acronyms didn’t come into use until about WWII. These acronyms all use modern English words, and, as my post shows, the word was being used much, much earlier than WWII/Modern English.
Fornicate Unlaful Carnal Knowlege
British soldiers raped Irish girls, , and when they were on the rampage, ( give an Irish girl something for nothing) , Irish men would spread the word : The FUCKERS Are Comming !
Please see my reply above: https://solongasitswords.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/on-the-origin-of-fuck/#comment-566
And then there’s this from a friend who is a history professor: “The stocks were a very early form of punishment and humiliation to ‘evil doers’. The offense was posted above their heads, such as thievery, blasphemy, and adultery. Unmarried persons caught having sexual intercourse were labeled with ‘For Use of Carnal Knowledge’. Eventually shortened to FUCK”.
Please see my reply above: https://solongasitswords.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/on-the-origin-of-fuck/#comment-566
The chronology of this acronym doesn’t match the evidence.
Happy fucking valentines day y’all (tomorrow) :) $teve
Very good article.
Why is the old Dutch word Fokken (to breed) or even the German Fricken (to fuck) not cited?
(the Dutch Wrikken : A way of waddling your oar)
According to this Dutch definition of Fokken http://www.etymologiebank.nl/trefwoord/fokken1 (try Google translate), the word Fokken also means ‘to slap/hit’ in old/mid Dutch as well as meaning ‘a sail’, which funnily enough also ‘flaps / slaps’ in the wind.
The Dutch Fokken has a few suggestive definitions; fokken : to breed, opfokken : to wind someone up, opgefokt : wound up and old Dutch focken : to play with / fool around with.
In actual fact English and Dutch definitions of their respective words Fuck / Fokken are very similar, also in their uncertainness of origin, in their Scottish / Scandinavian connection and with a certain “Jhan die fockre [1270; CG I, 188]; mnl.”
It’s a people thing, like the English acronym LOL, is a word in Dutch AND Welsh meaning Fun/Funny/HaHaHa
If your talking the English language it’s influences come from all around, Frisian, Dutch, German, Scandinavian, Danish, French, Irish, British and yes even Scottish ….. so they do ………. you see.
Thanks for this. It’s not cited because the focus of this blog post is on early instances of ‘fuck’ in English, not on establishing the etymology. Dutch and English share a lot of cognates, and, as I acknowledge at the start of the post, this is one of them.
The title of your article is “On the Origin of the Word Fuck”. Etymology literally means the study of the origin of words. Yet you say the article isn’t focusing on the etymology…? Way to contradict yourself.
I was embarrassed to even click on this link but am glad that I overcame this anxiety. Love your insight in the history of words. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks very much, I’m delighted you enjoyed it!
I bet 10 to 1 there was a caveman who dropped a wheel shaped rock on his foot and belted out the four letter word everyone is trying to prove came from their country of ancestry.
It’s so easy to say when pain fills the body…
It just rolls off the toungue.
I am surprised that none of you seems to have heard of the word, fecundate, which means: to fertilize. When two people decided to do their thing, the man would ” feck ” her, using the slang term for the longer word. As words are wont to be changed by people who attend public schools, and who frequently sleep through English class, if there is one, the word eventually became ” fuck.”
An example of how phrases are changed by others who did not pay attention, if any of you have read the book, The Right Stuff, the airmen did NOT say: pushing the envelope. The correct term is: pushing the EDGE of the envelope.
I am glad to have had a chance to clear up these two mistakes. Intelligent people will understand and take heed.
I don’t think “feck” BECAME “fuck” after some lengthy interval. Vowels morph very easily, one into another. Ever hear a New Zealander say “six big pigs”? It sound like “sux bug pugs”. Australians from Sydney (“Seednee?”) tend to say “seex beeg peegs”.
You mean feck off
The version I heard is that the mnemonic FUCK came from the old English law definition to prove a rape offence ie, Forcible, Unlawful, Carnal Knowledge. These were the three elements of the offence. These days however, force isn’t a necessity in rape as there is rape by trick and of course consent is always an element. I love the F word spoken at the right time and place, but not too frequently as it is in many movies.
Loved reading this, thanks!
When I was abou12 I looked up the word ‘fuck’ in the Funk and Wagnalls dictionary. It meant to plow , i.e. to fuck a field, in Old English.
Family comes from Latin and means ‘property of the man.’
The F-bomb was first used or should I say scrolled across the Caveman’s wall every time he tried to light a fire and was unsuccessful. It stood for Flick originally as they all tried to flick their Bic. Trouble is they would have to wait a few Millenniums before this fire stick was built. :-}
Entertaining article thanks. Also gives an insight into how urban myths are propagated and that those who claim them do so with such certitude. Additionally it shows how few people read others’ answers before posting their own .
The stocks explanation was funny; “….until it was eventually shortened to FUCK”. So until then they had been using very long signs above the heads of the unfortunate prisoners?
This is my favourite comment so far. I love you, Gerry.
My favourite as well. That and the odd mid-comments bonus of gratuitous Yank bashing!
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Yeah, but seriously, did you have to use so much profanity in the article?
This was very enjoyable, both your work and the comments.
Loved your article, Kate!
Unfortunately I’ve seen the acronym myth being propagated by a school teacher to her History class. While she certainly engaged their interest, it’s a shame she had to repeat such obvious hokum to do so.
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You had my attention until the last line of your second paragraph.
“I think the Brasenose fuck was considered the earliest in 1993, and that’s quite out-dated now.”
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I cannot believe that I have owned a copy of the OED since December 1998- (Dad: “Sarah, what do you want for Christmas?” Me: “The OED.” Dad: “What’s the OED?” Me: “It’s a four hundred dollar dictionary.” Long pause. Dad: “Are you sure you don’t want, like, clothes? Or a car?” Me: “Yup.”) AND I HAVE NOT LOOKED UP ALL THE DIRTY WORDS YET. Thank you, you have given me a productive activity for the afternoon.
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Richard. Head. aka Dick head
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I remember as a younger hearing the origin was an old English word meaning “to put seeds in the soil. Whether or not that is authentic. I know not…..
Nice topic! I think you guys will like this one – Warning: very funny – very rude – very catchy! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0doSWS0Fj24
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Wow. Thanks for including the link to this in your reply to my other comment. “You learn something new every day” – except most people won’t step outside their comfort zones far enough to encounter anything new. You challenged me to rise to the occasion, and I’m glad I did. Thanks.
Reblogged this on The Greedy Goat.
Thanks again for the blog post.Thanks Again. Cool. kgeddckgbkgedgda
Isn’t it strange that we think if you render words like this into Latin they’re no longer “obscene”? I wonder if Roman women would correct their children with Anglo-Saxon words “No Primus, we don’t say vagina, we say pussy”.
Reblogged this on dreamer girl.
Dear Kate, per’apps you will find this to be phatic talk in nature, but as an etymological layperson, a hobbysist of sorts, a philosopher, theologian, and student of the gaudy man, neither wanting to be trapped in a word, i find your fucking post intriguing and helpful to my ends. kindly, thank you for being thee olde E’s fucking savant!
I truely enjoyed this story on the history of the word fuck. I have always herd the concept of the word coming from fack. Meaning fornication at consent of the king and changing to fuck later down the road. After reading this article I think it has shed some more lite on the subject of its origon to me. THANKS AND HAVE A NICE FUCKING DAYLOL
Reblogged this on ZachsMind and commented:
I was listening to Alan Cross’ ajournalofmusicalthings.com and in his Secret history of Rock series he came upon the earliest use of the F word in an intentional commercial recording. 1965s “CIA Man” by The Fugs. I dunno if he’s right or not. I’m too lazy to confirm it. If there’s earlier examples I dunno, but it led me to wondering where did “fuck” come from? F.U.C.K. was the derivation I learned in junior high school, but not formally. It’s what we kids told each other. Someone heard it from a guy who read it somewhere and we all just accepted it. Sounded like as good an explanation as any, but as today’s reblogged blog post details, if you BELIEVE you know where “fuck” came from, get ready to stop believing.
Using the word “fuck” do people find it offensive ?
I thought the word “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge”-F,U.C.K. originated prior to the 15th Century more like late 12th Century where me placed in the stocks for rape had a sign above the stock stating “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge”- as punished etc???.
fuck came from latin saying fuck you hahahaha
Thats fucking interesting.
There is a whole new wave of word cops out there, seem to have been Marines in the recent past, all upset about this word fuck. What are we graduating from the Marine Corps now? A bunch of choir boys? They act like they never heard the word fuck before hahaha.
But I totally love this article. I think many of these explanations could be correct all at the same time. But I am most likely buying the fertilization and plowing the field comment, because there is still a reference to “plowing” a woman which would still have the same meaning …and I think we all know what that is. lol Giggety. Oops. Now where will that go in a thousand years?
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This post is stolen from Huffington Post, with same title and same words
Thanks for your concern, but actually this is the original post. I reposted it on Huffington Post myself – you’ll see it’s under my name, with a link back to this blog.
Isn’t it amazing how many people out there don’t believe something is original unless it was published on a major site first?
I fail to see any evidence of what the word actually means. Lots of theories and speculations. No origins. False advertising.
Just look it up in a Norwegian dictionary, it means ‘To make wet.’
Reblogged this on My Life Realized.
Reblogged this on Hot Hollywood MaMa and commented:
Because I love this word. As a noun, verb, adjective, and adverb. For your reading pleasure… ;-)
I would have liked the info better if the first appearance of the word was given first and so on.
Thank you for your feedback.
Did you read the second half of the post, starting:
‘There are lots of instances of the word fuck from before the fifteenth century drifting around, some of the most notable of which are, chronologically:’?
I’m not sure if you’ve seen this, which is making the rounds:
Not a lot of info on provenance, but that could be the reporting by Vice et al. and not the research by Booth — not enough info to judge.
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We will never find out the real truth behind this FUCKING word!!!
It’s Norwegian, look in a dictionary, it means to make wet!
Other posts have alluded to this but from a book on “ancient punishments,” in the early days of the pilgrims when a couple were caught in adultery or premarital sex they would be put in the stocks. Following the custom of the day crime was put above their heads. However, For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge was too long, so it was shortened to the acronym: FUCK.
I mean, I quite decisively state in the opening paragraph that that’s an ahistorical myth and then in the rest of the post I demonstrate where it actually comes from, based on actual research and evidence.
But sure: your thing too.
Heard somewhere, it was popularized when it was written over the top of a man/woman stockade as they were locked in, and displayed in the town square. Usually for adultery, it’s an acronym meaning For Uninhibited Carnal Knowledge
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There was a young man, late teens, raised in Japan, headed for the Air Force, who worked in the same factory as I did, decades ago now. One day I whacked some part of my anatomy on something and yelled loudly, “Fuck!” He looked at me aghast and cried, “You shouldn’t say that word! You’re a MOM!!!” I told him that I had tutored French in college (true) and that ‘fuck’ wasn’t really a ‘bad’ word but that it came from the French verb ‘fuquer’ (lol) ‘to sow seed’. I told him that ‘in France, the farmer fucks his fields’. And so, I sent him off to the Air Force like that and I have always wondered how long he believed that before someone set him straight.
I wish I hadn’t asked!
It’s old Norwegian, in the dictionary and it means ‘to make wet’……
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None of these results are correct unfortunately. The term “Fucker” that is used today originated from a man’s last name. This man had a mild handicap or severe twitch. To make fun off other people they would call them “Fucker” to say they were deformed or so. Sociology class text and instructor of origin of all so called “offensive” words. Where did you get your urban dictionary suggestions? Yikes! Research you’ll get it I assure you.
Fuck it , leave it for the night shift! Around 1960, said by lazy workers on the day shift.
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Having scanned the comments I think what I admire most is your patience in dealing with the same comments from a series of people who clearly haven’t read the article, let alone the other comments. And the people who solemnly dismiss all your evidence at a stroke in favour of their preferred urban myth, which you in fact debunked in the article. I blog and it just got to me after a while and I had to switch off the comments completely.
Anyway, I have a memory of a story doing the rounds a while back (after this was written) that linked the word fuck to a verb meaning “churn”. I can’t find it now. Perhaps it’s too obviously a reference to the modern sexual metaphor, but my dim memory is that it was a serious article with new evidence. Or I could be senile. Is there an update since 2014?
That’s very kind of you to say, thank you!
I don’t know that article but there are many variations on that theme and I’ve seen ‘churn’ mentioned. The only update I’ve seen is the one I added to the text – the discovery in 2015 of Roger Fuckebythenavele.
Always thought it came from gravestones in pre Victorian England which had
F,U.C.K. on the headstone meaning Found under common knowledge, for
ladies of ill repute, prostitutes or bums who were basically John or Jane Doe.
Nope, I’m afraid that’s a myth, just like all the others I mentioned.
Interesting information on words and their origins. Heard the word usage I the movie black and white 1999.
I always heard that it’s an acronym. One of the words started with the letter C, and I think another one started with K. The words would be written up on the stocks above prisoners or slaves who were arrested for liking Jonathan Taylor Thomas in Home Improvement. Eventually it was just shortened to F.U.C.K. I was also taught that most of the time their favorite band was Goo Goo Dolls.
I’ve often wondered what the meaning of the word fuck originated from, now I know, it’s crazy that it’s still used in Way’s of fighting, like for instance I’m gonna fuck you up do.
Just throwing into the mix the satisfaction that the mix of sounds creates in the utterer! You can invest an awful lot of emotion in that merry little syllable.
I’m sure that that owes something to the ‘success’ of such words in the English language as it is spoken!
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I can see that nobody takes into account the possible Latin origin of this word. In Latin, the verb for fucking is Futuere; in Romanian, Futere, from Latin. It is so amusing the fact that in Pompeii, one of the graffiti’s in a brothel reads like “…cum veni…futui”. In Romanian it meas exactly the same thing as in Latin: “As soon as I came here, I fucked!”
Perhaps from the dude who passed nuclear weapons tech to the reds in the 1940’s.. Klaus Fuchs… perhaps later molded into how Fuchs’ fuch’d everyone.. just a thought
That’s a humorous theory, but far too recent of an event to be plausible.
I don’t know why someone doesn’t Google it. Then we would have the definitive answer. Trust in technology.
It looks strange but in dutch they know the word “fokken” meaning to breed, to mate (slang) .Its is used for centuries. In Flanders (northern Belgium) They sometimes say “fok man dat wist ik niet…” meaning “damned, man I did not know it. Maybe these statement has the same origin as the English “fuck”.
You idiots, it comes from Slavic verb “puk” meaning to knock. All basic germanic words come from proto-Slavic, which is a parent language to germanic languages.
Well aren’t you nice
Well this idiot has done some research and I can assure you it comes from the Norwegian and translates ‘To make wet’.
Yes, the word is rather fucked philogically, yet I maintain that the word has been in use, verifiably, from the 18th Century, England. By “use” I mean as we use that pontificated word as we use today. Yes, I know what pontificate means. Richard Savage, 18th Century poet, made use of the word in his work An Author to Be Let. However, that work is exceeding rare. Fuck is probably the most violent and unpleasant word, which is why its employment is continuously applied.
I do not know if the real origin of the word will be never disclosed.
Anyway, I think that the first lines that you wrote in your article are not fair. You cannot discard the hypothesis of the acronymous just with few words and an imperative to obey. It does not match with a historian’s attitude.
Let me bring some points in favour of what is for you an “obvious nonsense”.
First : Acronyms in the past
Until the 15th century writing was in power of monks and priests, and Christians they were masters in acronyms from the very beginning : I.N.R.I. , written over the head of Christ on the cross was the quickest way to communicate the message also to illiterate people, even because, as per the Gospel text, the message over the cross was not an acromym, but written in full, in Latin, Greek and Hebrew.
Another example coming from the Christianity was the symbol of fish, once again an acronym.
The Greek word for fish is “ichthys.” As early as the first century, Christians made an acrostic from this word: Iesous Christos Theou Yios Soter, i.e. Jesus Christ, Son of God, Savior.
And so on …
so, the fact that acronyms were not used in the past sounds a bit weak to me.
And the fact that an acronym may also coincide with an already existing word does not change the question that much
Second : the “Fornicatio” concern illicit relations outside the marriage.
Along all the Middle Age the attitude of the official religion towards sexual acts was extremely negative, not only outside the “sacred relation of the marriage”. This attitude past also into the Protestant and into the Puritan worlds, and you know that even nowadays many Puritan couples they sleep in separate beds or even in separate rooms, as they should “have sex” only for the procreation, that is in the moment they decide to offer a new child to the almighty God. In all the other cases, “sex for fun”, even with your wife, has been alway considered as “fornicatio”.
Well, expecially during teh Puritan period, the control of the pure way of life of any single family who should not bring scandal into the village was absolutely complete and people they really were controlled in every single act of their life.
Last, but not least, we cannot forget that in that period very few people could “lock the door” of their houses, and expecially in London and in the big cities promiscuity was the normality and a piece of paper would have really been the only shield against the “accusations of fornicatio”
Third: The “consentment of the King” is almost technically impossible:
From the 10th to the 18th century the relations between Power and Religion were different than today and if the Lord was representing the King, also the Priest in the Parish was representing the Chief of the Church, and his power derived directly from the King, on behalf of which he was doing every single act.
Many priests were also illiterate and to write down an acronym, was easier, quicker and cheaper than writing down a full page that not a single soldier or controller could have had the ability of reading.
Now put all these points together, please.
Once again, I do not know if this explanation is correct or not, but it seems to me that it could not be thrown away just as a silly idea.
I am 68 and a retired lawyer. I say this because somewhere I learned that the word is derived from English jail/prison records when a person was arrested For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge, and became its abbreviation.
Seems to be a most plausible explanation.
Thank you for your thoughtful comment to my blog post. I invite you to revisit its first paragraph.
Very interesting, especially about the Scottish.
Isn’t the word FUCK …fucking fucken fucked?
Imho, this word is a derivation of the verb fouquer
Outstanding use of ‘imho’ there. So humble.