Etymology of a vulgar word?

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by Dinosaur, Apr 4, 2007.

  1. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    This is a matter of idle curiousity, having no chance of resulting in making money or advancing any worthy cause.

    Perhaps 50 years ago, I read or was told a plausible etymology for f**k.
    There was a very old Anglo Saxon method of planting certain crops. A hand held pointed tool was used to make a hole in in the ground. Seeds were dropped in and the hole was stepped on to close it up. The first part or all of this method was called f**king. I have never been able to find a citation validating this etymology.​

    It is possible that the true etymology has been lost. I forgot where I found the following.

    The taboo was so strong that for 170 years, from 1795 to 1965, fuck did not appear in a single dictionary of the English language. In 1948, the publishers of The Naked and the Dead persuaded Norman Mailer to use the euphemism "fug" instead, resulting in Dorothy Parker's comment upon meeting Mailer: "So you're the man who can't spell fuck."​

    The root is undoubtedly Germanic, as it has cognates in other Northern European languages: Middle Dutch fokken meaning to thrust, to copulate with; dialectical Norwegian fukka meaning to copulate; and dialectical Swedish focka meaning to strike, push, copulate, and fock meaning penis. Both French and Italian have similar words, foutre and fottere respectively. These derive from the Latin futuere.​

    While these cognates exist, they are probably not the source of fuck, rather all these words probably come from a common root. Reputable sources such as the Oxford English Dictionary contend the true etymology is still uncertain, but appears to point to an Anglo-Saxon origin that in later times spread to the British colonies and worldwide.​

    The last sentence above provides minimal support for the etymology I encountered so long ago.

    Does anyone here have any infomation relating to the above.
  2. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  3. madanthonywayne Morning in America Registered Senior Member

    I'd heard a story about a war between the French and the English in which captured soldiers would have their middle fingers cut off so they could no longer shoot a bow and arrow. At some big battle, the soldiers were taunting the enemy, saying, "I can still "pluck" you as they raised their middle finger to show it hadn't been cut off. The emergence of a new word, and gesture.
  4. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  5. Athelwulf Rest in peace Kurt... Registered Senior Member

    I would just use my index finger if my middle was cut off. Not a very effective way of disabling the enemy.
  6. Google AdSense Guest Advertisement

    to hide all adverts.
  7. Syzygys As a mother, I am telling you Valued Senior Member

    I was watching Rome on HBO, and they were using"fuck" a lot. I am more then sure the world didn't exist back then and their way of cursing was completely different...
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member


    The most authoritative source I've ever encountered for etymologies says that the word is almost surely of true Germanic origin. It has cognates in the Scandinavian languages and its first appearence in English was in Scotland, stengthening the likelihood of importation from Scandinavia. It appears to be about copulation, not a euphemism drawn from farming. is the work of two people and so it is not an exhaustive etymological dictionary, but the origins they have researched are impeccable. They have found at least one error in the OED.
  9. kenworth dude...**** it,lets go bowling Registered Senior Member

    it was the index and the middle finger.
  10. Cyperium I'm always me Valued Senior Member

    I'm from Sweden, and I have never heard that fock mean penis, not even in any dialiect of swedish that I've ever heard. Further the word "focka" would have no meaning whatsoever in normal swedish (there might be some dialiect, but if so, then it is very rare and not heard of by the average swede).

    However, if I were to use the word focka in a sentence and replaced "knuffa" with that word (as "knuffa" would be an appropriate word "to push"), then it probably would be understood (and understood is the key word here) as "to push", simply because of the rules and tone of the language. Oh, and replace the "ff" with "ll" (L) in "knuffa" and you get the swedish word for "focka"!
  11. Oniw17 ascetic, sage, diogenes, bum? Valued Senior Member

    I thought fuck was Fornication Under the Consent of the King that was granted to English nobles in order to get them to go to Scotland and maintain order? I hate public schools....lying teachers.

    Edit: Like in Braveheart, when they had sex with the newly married women.
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2007
  12. Baron Max Registered Senior Member

    Interesting. I saw an old woodcut, English ages, with a woman in a stockade. On a board above her head and hands were carved the initials F, U, C, K. Which stood for her crime .....For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Too much to carve into a wood panel, so they abbreviated it to F.U.C.K.

    That's the best explanation for "fuck" that I've ever seen or heard. And it makes perfect sense, too.

    Baron Max
  13. Medicine*Woman Jesus: Mythstory--Not History! Valued Senior Member

    M*W: I was taught in college literature that "F-U-C-K" stood for "For-Unlawful-Carnal-Knowledge." It was of English origin. When folks were put in stockades in Olde England and in the Colonies, they wore a sign similiar to the Scarlet Letter "A" that stood for their crime of unlawful sexual relations.
  14. Dinosaur Rational Skeptic Valued Senior Member

    It did not come from an acronym.
  15. Killjoy Propelling The Farce!! Valued Senior Member

    The gesture, at any rate, appears to be older.

    The "one-finger salute," or at any rate sexual gestures involving the middle finger, are thousands of years old. In Gestures: Their Origins and Distribution, Desmond Morris and colleagues note that the digitus infamis or digitus impudicus (infamous or indecent finger) is mentioned several times in the literature of ancient Rome.

    What's the origin of "the finger"?
  16. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    That's called droit de seigneur, "right of lord[ship]," although the French call it droit de cuissage or droit de jambage. As a legend, the right of a king or village lord to have first intercourse with a (presumably virgin) bride appears in many cultures and is even mentioned in the biblical story of Gilgamesh. Howevery, according to Wikipedia, in all those thousands of years there is no credible evidence of it being performed as an actual practice, custom or tradition.

    Apocryphal or not, its ubiquity makes it something of an archetype (a motif in the collective unconscious) and begs the question of its origin. This is generally thought to be an older, equally widespread, and historically established tradition, jus primae noctis, Latin for "right of the first night."

    Virginity was not always held in as high regard as it has recently been (at least nominally) in Abrahamist cultures. There was a time when men did not want to marry virgins. In some tribes the formal duty to take care of the defloration fell to a man other than the fiance.

    Jean Auel exhaustively researched the lifestyles of premodern peoples for her Clan of the Cave Bear series using archeology, historical accounts by their civilized neighbors, and studies of the few remaining Neolithic tribes. Her people on the Mesolithic/Neolithic cusp had a tradition of pubescent youths of both sexes being courted by an older, experienced member of the tribe for a consensual initiation into sexuality, including both anatomical and emotional mentoring.

    This is consistent with the origin of archetypes.
  17. Pete It's not rocket surgery Registered Senior Member

    It seems to me that a short expression for sexual relations would be one of the first things ever uttered.

    Adam: Hi!
    Eve: Wanna fuck?

    The only question is which branch of language it came from, I think.
  18. valich Registered Senior Member

    Words without substance are meaningless. Care to back this up with facts? So far, as you have seen, it appears to have originated from an acronym. Why do you assume differently?
  19. Oniw17 ascetic, sage, diogenes, bum? Valued Senior Member

    That's awesome that you know all that. I'll try to find some of her books next time I go to the library. For real, you're tight as fuck. I should have to thank you just for being alive. Everyone should.
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    We have a legitimate controversy here. However, I respect the authority of, whose standards of exhaustive research are well cited on their enormous website. They have been unable to find any actual records of the origin of the word that MW cites in her college classes. Professors have been known (to put it mildly) to present their own opinions or those of their own mentors as fact. In general TOWFI finds etymologies based on acronym to be apocryphal, such as "posh," apocryphally the abbreviation of "port outbound, starboard home" stamped on the tickets of upper-class ship passengers so they would have a scenic view in both directions. There are no records of this practice in the archives of British steamship line offices.

    Most words are derived from earlier spoken words, and their etymology is therefore sometimes elusive. An etymology from a written phrase or abbreviation, on the other hand, by definition should leave a record.

    As literacy rates rose to nearly 100% with the spread of universal public education in anglophone nations, word formation from acronyms became more common in the 20th Century. Words like BTU, radar, TV and blog are in common use... and their origins are copiously documented.

    I do not mean to stifle this controversy, but the standards of proof for an acronym-based etymology are higher because the expectation of hard evidence is higher. Dinosaur's skepticism is rather curtly expressed but nonetheless reasonable. The burden of proof falls on the acronym side of the argument.
  21. leopold Valued Senior Member

  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    I'm not sure how much credibility I would give to a presentation on words, in which the word "versatile" was misspelled. But I'll give them extra credit for using Mister Mackie from South Park, even if that wasn't his voice.

    I can't find fricken in a German dictionary but there are people here with better resources. It might just be a joke on our word "freaking," a euphemism for "fucking," which is often pronounced "frickin'."

    I had a friend many years ago who was born in Germany. Although his family emigrated before he was old enough to develop a good working vocabulary of profanity, he said that he heard the older kids saying ficken for "fuck." Which of course is not in the dictionary either.
  23. leopold Valued Senior Member

    i think it's spelled 'freiken'.

Share This Page