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September 14, 2015

Earliest Use of the Word F*ck Found!

Jonathan Rolande/ Flickr

**Warning: Adult language ahead!

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What the F*ck?! The word f*ck is almost 685 years old.

We all love a good F-bomb every now and then for emphasis, don’t we?

We can use it as a verb, noun and adjective in one sentence—“Go f*ck yourself, you f*cking f*ck!”

The versatile F-word, is now thought to have been in use since the year 1310. Dr. Paul Booth, a researcher, has discovered use of the F-word in court records—dated September, 1310—making this the earliest recorded use of the word.

Booth believes the use of the word in these documents carries a “clear sexual connotation.”

He states that the court records pertain to a man named Roger Fuckebythenavel, who was tried three times and outlawed, meaning he was most likely executed in May of 1311.

Booth was researching records from the period of Edward II in a Chester County Court, when he stumbled upon the moniker, and at first Booth thought it was a joke dreamed up by a court clerk with a sense of humor. As he read on, he discovered the use of the name three more times, clearly showing it was real.

He told the Daily Mail:

“Either it refers to an inexperienced copulator, referring to someone trying to have sex with the navel, or it’s a rather extravagant explanation for a dimwit, someone so stupid they think that this is the way to have sex.”

Booth also states that even if the name was created as a joke on this man, there is no taking away from the “significance of the use of the word f*ck in a name.”  Prior to this discovery, the instance widely recognized as the earliest recording of the F-word in the English language is reportedly from 1528, when a monk scrawled the words, “O d fuckin Abbot,” in the margin of a manuscript by Cicero.

In his book, The F-WordJesse Sheidlower explains, “F*ck is a word of Germanic origin. It is related to words in several other Germanic languages, such as Dutch, German and Swedish, that have sexual meanings as well as meaning such as ‘to strike’ or ‘to move back and forth.'”

The aforementioned Daily Mail article also states:

“Eric Partridge, a famous etymologist, said that the German word [f*ck] was related to the Latin words for pugilist, puncture, and prick.”

The word wasn’t considered vulgar until the prim and proper 18th century, when it was banned from the Oxford English Dictionary.

But we all know it has made its resurgence since the 20th century.

Studies of language and the use of swearing show that use of swear words has a physiological effect on the body, and that it builds social solidarity amongst groups of people.

And of course, sometimes it just feels good to swear! 

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Relephant: 

Cursing Kids: Just Funny or a Cause for Concern? 

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Author: Lindsay Carricarte 

Editor: Yoli Ramazzina

Photo: Flickr/Jonathan Rolande

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