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How bad is the f-word really?

I fucking love this man! It's awesome, keep it up!

Is it not a bad word sometimes?

Can it be used in formal article?

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marked as duplicate by Mehper C. Palavuzlar, kiamlaluno, RegDwigнt, Kosmonaut Jan 29 '11 at 14:34

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3 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

I don't know whether you're trolling with this question or not, but I'm going to give you a straight answer anyway.

While I agree that this is not a word you want to use if you're trying to make a good impression on your mother-in-law, and should be avoided in many, many contexts, there are times when no other word will do. It is possibly the strongest and most useful intensifier in the English language for some situations.

Are you out of your fucking mind?

Get the fuck out of here!

You gotta be fucking kidding me!

In the right context, it can be very expressive. Crude and vulgar, yes — but sometimes that is exactly what's called for.

Try to imagine Pulp Fiction or The Big Lebowski or The Sopranos without that word. No, wait — just turn on AMC when those shows are on and see how censorship of that word (frigging or some other weak-assed substitute is crudely dubbed in in its place) absolutely destroys the impact of either film.

Consider this line from The Big Lebowski, the emotional climax in which The Dude blows up at his idiot/savant (OK, mainly idiot) buddy Walter Sobjchak:

The Dude: God damn you Walter! You fuckin' asshole! Everything's a fuckin' travesty with you, man! And what was all that shit about Vietnam? What the FUCK has anything got to do with Vietnam? What the fuck are you talking about?

Or these lines from Pulp Fiction [Vincent and Jules are cleaning the inside of the car which is covered in blood]:

Jules: Oh, man, I will never forgive your ass for this shit. This is some fucked-up repugnant shit.

Vincent: Jules, did you ever hear the philosophy that once a man admits that he's wrong that he is immediately forgiven for all wrongdoings? Have you ever heard that?

Jules: Get the fuck out my face with that shit! The motherfucker that said that shit never had to pick up itty-bitty pieces of skull on account of your dumb ass.

Vincent: I got a threshold, Jules. I got a threshold for the abuse that I will take. Now, right now, I'm a fuckin' race car, right, and you got me in the red. And I'm just sayin', I'm just sayin' that it's fuckin' dangerous to have a race car in the fuckin' red. That's all. I could blow.

Jules: Oh! Oh! You ready to blow?

Vincent: Yeah, I'm ready to blow.

Jules: Well, I'm a mushroom-cloud-layin' motherfucker, motherfucker! Every time my fingers touch brain, I'm Superfly T.N.T., I'm the Guns of the Navarone! IN FACT, WHAT THE FUCK AM I DOIN' IN THE BACK? YOU'RE THE MOTHERFUCKER WHO SHOULD BE ON BRAIN DETAIL! We're fuckin' switchin'! I'm washin' the windows, and you're pickin' up this nigger's skull!

Hell, even Jon Stewart uses the word knowing it will get bleeped. Sometimes, in adult conversations about adult topics, for a particular kind of emphasis it is the exact word you need and no substitute even comes close.

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The NOAD reports that:

fucking |ˈfəkɪŋ|
adjective [attributive] & adverb [as submodifier] vulgar slang
used for emphasis or to express anger, annoyance, contempt, or surprise.

In the sentence you wrote, I will understand the word to be used to give emphasis.

The word is vulgar, and it is not used in a formal context.

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thank you, kiamlaluno. –  lovespring Jan 29 '11 at 18:54
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My dictionary (Collins) has it as taboo, and it is best avoided in any context. Otherwise, you will initially achieve the desired effect (which is to draw attention) but ultimately everyone will join in and the office/school/house will start to sound like a barrack-room.

The only formal article in which it should appear is one discussing swearing.

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thank you, Brain Hooper. –  lovespring Jan 29 '11 at 18:54
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