What the Fuck?

What the fuck… don’t fuck with me… fuckin A… flying fuckfuck off… fuck you… fuck….

A google search for historical origins of fuck yields Madfish Willie's Cyber Saloon: Fuck You! as #5 result. Only #5?!? UPDATE: Well, now Madfish Willie's is the #2 & #3 result. In a couple of days, I should be #1! Woohoo!

Here's a recap of some of the top results and we'll all know where the fuck fuck came from.

Here's the fifth fucking day of fuck:

Fuck References

Date: Tue, 5 Sep 1995 16:46:48 EDT
From: Will Wheeler
Newsgroups: alt.folklore.urban
Subject: Etymology of a Dirty Word

A topic that frequently comes up in this newsgroup is word or phrase origins, especially when the origins are obscure or there are folkloric aspects to the origin. A prime example is the word fuck. Many people think that fuck is derived as an acronym of For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge or Fornication Under Consent of the King. These people are wrong. The word fuck is a good 500 years old, with cognates that are much older. For more information on the etymology of fuck, as well as many other word and phrase origins, please consult the /pub/cathouse/urban.legends/language/ directory at the cathouse archives. Another good source is the _Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang_, which has pages and pages of definitions. They quote alt.sex.stories on to fill with fuck, but don't get the definition of flying fuck completely correct.

I chanced upon a reference on the etymology of fuck, and thought that I'd share what I found. The article is "An Obscenity Symbol," by Allen Walker Read, in _American Speech_, 9 n. 4, (December 1934): 264-278. It's quite an enjoyable read and only briefly touches on the etymology of the word, which is fine; the main focus is on the history of the word in the language, in dictionaries, and popular speech. Interestingly, Read always uses "our word" or "the word" instead of "fuck," but it's pretty obvious what word he's talking about.

The first appearance of the word fuck was in a poem by William Dunbar, entitled Ane [or A] Brash of Wowing or In Secreit Place. The poem was composed in 1503, at the latest. Dunbar was Scottish, and the other early recorded uses of fuck are also from Scots. Read concludes that "either the word had little stigma in this resion and was merely a counterpart of Chaucer's swive, or that the Scots were bolder in speech than their southern neighbors." You be the judge.

I found the poem in The Poems of William Dunbar, James Kinsley, ed., Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979, 40-42.

Here are the first two stanzas of the poem:

In secreit place this hindir nycht
I hard ane bern say till a bricht:
My hunny, my houp, my hairt, my heill,
I haif bene lang your lufar leill
And can yow gett confort nane;
How lang will ye with denger deill?
Ye brek my hart, my bony ane.
His bony berd wes kemd and croppit
Bot all with kaill it was bedroppit
And he was townsyche, peirt and gukkit.
He clappit fast, he kist, he chukkit
As with the glaikkis he were ourgane--
Yit be his feiris he wald haif fukkit:
Ye brek my hairt, my bony ane.

Apparently, this is about a romantic liason between a kitchen maid and a smooth-talking city boy. A colleague of Michele Tepper's has provided a translation. Please email me if you're interested.

Please feel free to follow up to this post. Don't, however, even think about suggesting that you heard that fuck is derived from an acronym. It isn't, and the idea has absolutely no basis in fact.

~Will "you know what we'll do" Wheeler ~

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Posted by: MARI on August 27, 2004 10:40 PM