Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

When was the f-word 'invented'? Who invented it? Has it always had the derogatory meaning that it does today. Is it a recent invention?

share|improve this question
2  
"Forest"? "Fantastic"? "Fun"? "Freedom"? Lots of f-words. Do we really need this here? I'd hope not... and if we do, well, don't expect me to react with anything but sarcasm. And yes, it just go a -1 from me. –  Jürgen A. Erhard Jan 26 '11 at 14:46
7  
@jae: I don't understand why you have an issue. You don't think this could be a doubt in somebody's mind? And I used "the f-word" because I did not want to spoil the courteous and congenial atmosphere here :D –  Arjun J Rao Jan 26 '11 at 14:50
6  
@jae WTF? This is a perfectly fine linguistic question. –  deceze Jan 27 '11 at 3:32
5  
@jae Mom? Get off stackexchange! –  Orca Jan 27 '11 at 8:41
1  
And I think avoiding to spell out the word is bad because we want to be searchable, right? But if "fuck" is not written "fuck", someone looking for this info won't find this question. –  Jürgen A. Erhard Feb 14 '11 at 15:35
show 6 more comments

4 Answers

up vote 16 down vote accepted

Wikipedia has this:

It is unclear whether the word has always been considered vulgar, and if not, when it first came to be used to describe (often in an extremely angry, hostile or belligerent manner) unpleasant circumstances or people in an intentionally offensive way [...]

And:

The Oxford English Dictionary states that the ultimate etymology is uncertain, but that the word is "probably cognate" with a number of native Germanic words with meanings involving striking, rubbing, and having sex.

Etymonline offers further insight:

until recently a difficult word to trace, in part because it was taboo to the editors of the original Oxford English Dictionary when the "F" volume was compiled, 1893-97. Written form only attested from early 16c. Oxford English Dictionary 2nd edition cites 1503, in the form fukkit; earliest appearance of current spelling is 1535 -- "Bischops ... may fuck thair fill and be vnmaryit" [Sir David Lyndesay, "Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaits"], but presumably it is a much more ancient word than that, simply one that wasn't written in the kind of texts that have survived from Old English and Middle English.

[...]

Verbal phrase fuck up "to ruin, spoil, destroy" first attested c.1916. [...] Fuck off attested from 1929; as a command to depart, by 1944. Flying fuck originally meant "have sex on horseback" and is first attested c.1800 in broadside ballad "New Feats of Horsemanship." For the unkillable urban legend that this word is an acronym of some sort (a fiction traceable on the Internet to 1995 but probably predating that) see here, and also here. [...] Agent noun fucker attested from 1590s in literal sense; by 1893 as a term of abuse (or admiration).

share|improve this answer
    
Good Lord. This word is that old ! I thought it was some invention from the early 1900s or something. –  Arjun J Rao Jan 26 '11 at 14:52
6  
I'm intrigued... Was a flying fuck a common thing back in the days, or was that another figure of speech? :) –  deceze Jan 27 '11 at 3:29
2  
@Rao - as a guide, the shorter and more common the word = the older it is. Your language needs a word for fuck long before it needs a word for disambiguation. –  mgb Jul 3 '11 at 16:35
add comment

As per the origin of the word, the NOAD reports that:

ORIGIN early 16th cent.: of Germanic origin (compare Swedish dialect focka and Dutch dialect fokkelen); possibly from an Indo-European root meaning strike, shared by Latin pugnus (fist).

share|improve this answer
    
Also compare German vulgar ficken which has the same meaning –  Pekka 웃 Jan 27 '11 at 0:32
1  
Can you provide a reference to the Swedish focka? I can't seem to recognize it at all... We do say fucka upp but that's clearly a very recent vikingization of the English vulgarism. –  Konrad Viltersten Jul 30 '13 at 16:58
add comment

I found interesting information on The Origin of the F-Word

Netlore Archive: In which we are told with a straight face that the word 'fuck' originated as the acronym of 'Fornication Under Consent of the King,' 'Fornication Under Command of the King,' 'For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge,' or some variation thereof.

Description: Folk etymology
Circulating since: The 1960s
Status: False

I am guessing in 1960, its pejorative meaning got some traction

share|improve this answer
2  
What the hell... –  Arjun J Rao Feb 14 '11 at 17:23
add comment

My childhood experience is that a number of American swearwords found their earliest (American) use in World War II, by soldiers under wartime pressures. They then brought these words home and introduced them to their children, members of the so-called "Baby Boom."

share|improve this answer
add comment

protected by RegDwigнt Jul 12 '11 at 10:55

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.