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 I was in San Diego, I asked to a girl "how can I get to the freeway?" She answered me, "Go straight on, you can't fuck it up." What does it mean? Is this a usable phrase or it is too vulgar? Is this american slang?

share|improve this question
1  
It's very vulgar. Even among friends, it's at or near the top of the 'worst' list. If you're EFL, you'll want to stay far away from it. Use Monica's suggestion "you can't go wrong", or "you can't mess up". –  Mitch Jul 8 '11 at 14:52
1  
I'm "EFL" ("to be EFL" is a new one, never heard EFL as an adjective). And I love "fuck" to bits ;D. Granted, I'm also German, and not upper-class, so I'm far from being (over)sensitive in language matters. –  Jürgen A. Erhard Jul 8 '11 at 15:45

3 Answers 3

up vote 4 down vote accepted

She meant that her directions were so simple you couldn't misunderstand them. To fuck something up means to get it very badly wrong (see FUBAR).

It's definitely not for use in formal situations, or for use around those with sensitive ears.

It's also not exclusively an Americanism, as I've heard it used in the UK and other English language countries, although I couldn't speculate as to the origin.

share|improve this answer
    
"To fuck something up means to get it very badly wrong" It's all I wanted to know, the meaning of that particoular sentence was clear. –  Giuseppe Di Federico Jul 8 '11 at 14:58
    
I thought it best to clarify in case other readers didn't understand her meaning. –  Andy F Jul 8 '11 at 15:00
    
It was a compliment :D .. as to say, thank you, you answered my question !! it wasn't a complain about your full explaination ;-) –  Giuseppe Di Federico Jul 8 '11 at 15:05
    
That's fine then :) I'm glad I could help. –  Andy F Jul 8 '11 at 15:12

It means you can't get it wrong; it's idiot-proof.

This is coarse slang not suitable for formal or sensitive settings. A polite alternative is "you can't go wrong".

share|improve this answer

fuck something up (or fuck up): do something badly or ineptly.

It's vulgar slang, but not particularly an Americanism. It is synonymous to “screw something up”. In your particular case, you can't fail to find the freeway.

share|improve this answer

protected by tchrist Jul 2 at 2:49

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.