Debunking A Myth  

MissAnnThrope 56F
11679 posts
2/7/2006 1:48 am

Last Read:
11/17/2007 8:37 pm

Debunking A Myth

So, I've been seeing various myths in the blogs again. This one really annoys me, because so many people believe it. The origins of the word fuck.

The myths people want to believe are the word being an acronym, meaning either Fornication Under Consent of the King or For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. In the case of the latter, the myth is prisoners were forced to wear this word on their clothing, as they were convicted . There are several variations on this one. In the case of the former, it was said to be placed above houses when the king wanted birth control practiced, to control the population. Neither of these myths existed until the 1960s, when the word started to fall into common usage.

There is no doubt the word is NOT English in origin. From the Middle Dutch comes "fokken". meaning to thrust and/or copulate. From the Norwegian "fukka," meaning to copulate and from two very old Swedish words, "focka," which is strike, push copulate and "fock," meaning penis. The word also existed in Latin, as "futuere." The French word "foutre" and the Italian word "fottere" both mean fuck and are derived from the Latin. Chances are the oldest word for fuck is from the Latin. However, the English word fuck definitely has Germanic roots. As the earliest use of the word in English did come from Scotland and the Vikings did have a thing for invading Scotland, it's pretty much a given that the English word is from Scandinavian roots.

The first written use of the word found so far, was from a poem called "Flen flyys," written in a mix of Middle English and Latin and it is from before 1500:

Non sunt in celi quia fuccant uuiuys of heli.

This translates into modern English as, they are not in heaven because they fuck the wives of Ely. The they in this line are monks, as the poem satirizes monks. The poem takes it's name from the first line of the poem. "Flen, flyys, and freris;" that is, "Fleas, flies, and friars." Even the first known written use of the word used it in a manner that showed how unacceptable it was. It was even written in a very easy cipher, as it was so offensive.

The first time fuck appeared in the OED, was in 1503 and it was spelled fukkit. The earliest written document with the current spelling is from 1535.

Shakespeare used the word in a disguised manner, but of course, the people of the time knew what he meant. In "Merry Wives of Windsor," he uses the pun, "focative case." In Henry V, someone threatens to "firk" another character. While the word does mean strike, it was common Elizabethan slang for fuck.

Another myth about the word has to do with Norman Mailer. When he wrote, "The Naked and the Dead," his publisher insisted her replace fuck with fug. Well, it was Dorothy Parker NOT Tallulah Bankhead who said when she met him, "So you're the man who can't spell 'fuck'" Dorothy Parker. Remember that. There will be a quiz later.

Therefore, the myth about the word fuck is just that. A myth that people like because it sounds good and they feel it gives the word panache. However, the truth in my opinion, is far more interesting.

If you want to study this further, there is an excellent book out there, called "The F Word" written by Jesse Sheidlower. This was originally published in 1999. Sadly, it is out of print, but of course, you can always find a copy on eBay or from an outside vendor on Amazon. It amazes me that a book on a word that fascinates so many would go out of print. But then again, people want to believe what they want to believe and if the truth invalidates their beliefs, they don't want to hear it.

header1979 37M
507 posts
2/7/2006 6:51 am

Excellent post. I always appreciate the finer points of literature. lol I will look into this further. I suspect that the Germanic words either came from Latin or both the Latin and Germanic words came from a common Indo-European language like the various forms of the word for mother.

rm_VoodooGuru1 49M
2053 posts
2/7/2006 8:52 am

Of course the first English usage of the word was in Scotland. I expect the first English usage of the word "cunt", which also can be traced to the Latin, was in Scotland as well.

8321 posts
2/7/2006 10:26 am

When I was deployed to Bosnia, the locals informed me that the word for fuck was "ficke". I always believed the word had its origin in Europe, just wasn't sure where. I would tend to agree with you on Germanic roots, but beyond that who can really say?

You always come up with the most enlightening posts. Thinking outside the box while avoiding the mental complacency that affects our society. Refreshing.


"My every move is a calculated step, to bring me closer to embrace an early death." -Tupac Shakur

NickRules999 39M
9462 posts
2/7/2006 2:23 pm

Interesting. How funny would it be if this were a high school term paper? If it were the high school I went to, it would mean 3 days ISS (in school suspension), or, expulsion.

Which leads to the next question: how did we decide it should be a word we can't say on TV, radio, or in public? In fact, I ask that same question about all the curse words we use today.

Come into my realm! You aren't afraid...are you?

CantonOhCouple 60M/59F
553 posts
2/7/2006 5:39 pm

Seems like fuck has lost its status. We need a new one. We vote for "bush".

MissAnnThrope 56F
11488 posts
2/7/2006 7:34 pm

Thanks header. As far as I know, they never traced the word further back than that. But if you find anything, let me know.

LoveSpell, I always thought it sounded fishy too. Especially since even Chaucer used the word in "The Canterbury Tales." That predates when the acronym legends were supposed to have taken place.

Voodoo, of course it was first used on Scotland? A bit biased there, aren't you? And as far as cunt goes... This word for the female genitalia dates back to the Middle English period, c.1325. (Although researchers have found a London street named Gropecuntelane from c. 1230.) Although the word cannot be traced back further than this, there are cognates in a variety of other Germanic languages, indicating a Germanic origin.

Cunt does not come from the Latin cunnus, which is also a term for the female pudenda, although a common root back in the mists of time cannot be discounted. Use of the word as term of abuse for a woman is a 20th century sense, dating to 1929.

There you have it. It's been a bad word for less than 100 years.

Thanks Division. Mental complacency does tend to be the norm anymore. Oh, who am I kidding? It's been like that for as long as I've been alive. Anyone who went against the norm as I was growing up was a rabble rouser out for attention. It's still that way.

When you think about it, the word is gutteral, so the Germanic root does make sense. So much of English did come from the Vikings and the Celts, who started out in the Bavarian area, according to archeological digs in the 80s and the number of Germans who married into the British royal family... It's amazing we're not all speaking German.

Nick, some high school teachers would probaly appreciate it, once the intial shock wore off. However, there's not a lot of reference work out there readily available to high school kids. And in your area, I could just hear it... "Mom, can you order me this book? I'm writing a paper on the word fuck." Yeah, that would go over well from the start.

Canton, this is why I miss Colin Powell. I can no longer say, "Bush, Dick, Colin. No wonder the country is screwed."

header1979 37M
507 posts
2/7/2006 9:02 pm

To answer NickRules999 in a general way, many of the words in the English language that are of Saxon origin became the vulgar words after 1066 and the Norman invasion. The Normans spoke a version of the French langauage which became the language of the new rulers of the land. The language the Normans spoke became the language of the elite and the Saxon language was the language of the peasants and this considered vulgar. As the Saxon dialect and the Norman dialect merged into what is now regarded as the English language, many of the Norman words retained their status as polite words and many Saxon words were regarded as vulgar. This distinction has been carried forward to modern times and codified into law. When you get right down to it what difference should it make if you say "fuck" instead of 'coitus" or some of the more acceptable substitutes like "screw"? doesn't make sense but that is how it developed over time.

womanoirish 53F

2/8/2006 8:51 am

Excellent post. We talked about the origins of this word in one of my psychology classes when I was in college. Many younger people had no idea words have their own etymology.

As a side note, did you know you can sing the word 'fuck' to the tune of "Dashing through the Snow"? Just replace every word with the f-word. lol okay, I've had way too much coffee this morning.

MissAnnThrope 56F
11488 posts
2/11/2006 4:13 am

header, that makes sense. Words based on Saxon words do tend to be more gutteral and don't sound as nice as others. But as far as fuck, coitus and screw... A screw didn't become slang for sex until the 18th century. It also has other slang meanings and is a tool we all use to keep thing from falling apart. Coitus is the scientific word, so it's considered more gentle. A nice, educated way of saying fornication. Fuck just is and has lasted an awfully long time as a dirty word. Then again, screw and fornication are from the Old French and coitus is Latin. Fuck is Saxon. hmmmmm......

woman, I have song "Jingle Bells" that way. But not in years. But depending on where you went to school, we all had the same language, until they tried to build the Tower of Babel. Then God got upset and created every language, so none of the workers could communicate with each other anymore. There are adults who still believe this is true. I bet Laura Bush believes it too.

Trav, um... Is that double bracket thingie one of the premium smilies we proles of standard members can't see?

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