Throughout history, the art of language has evolved and transformed continuously, allowing people of all ages, eras, and backgrounds the opportunity to communicate and work together to solve man’s greatest problems. One word that has come into the English vernacular and wiggled its way into conversations, exclamations, songs, poems, and media everywhere is, and please excuse our language, the f-word.
A Letter to Remember
In 1278, the first documented use of the F-word appeared, scholars have speculated, perhaps by accident. Thought to be a misspelling, as no other documents have surfaced with the same surname, the f-word was written for the first time as a man’s name: John le Fucker.
After ten years without a single documented incident of the f-word, one of King Edward I’s stable servants’ name brought the f-word back into etymological existence. His name was Kemna Fuckebegger, and his legacy as the second-ever written use of the f-word in history will live on forever.
The Names that History Wishes it Could Forget
As the passage of time continues, there are several more unfortunate souls with names that have been discovered for our modern amusement. The year of 1290 in Ipswich, England, was especially unlucky for both Simon Fukkebotere (possibly in reference to the churning or striking of butter at the time) and Willm’i Smalfuk (perhaps in reference to small fukke sails). A man by the name of Roger Fuckebythenavele is recorded three times in court records from 1310 in Chester, England; so, unfortunately for him, that really was his name, no ancient historical typos here.
From the Land of the Scots
The first use of the f-word as it is known today in history occurred in 1503 in a poem written by William Dunbar. Dunbar was a friar and poet who wrote, “Yit be his fieris he wall haue fukkit” in his now historical poem, Ane Brash of Wowing. Translated to modern English, this means “it be his manner he would have fucked [fukkit.]”
Everything is Derivative
So, now that we’ve discussed the first written instances of the f-word, we can move on the etymology of the f-word. While it’s still a hotly debated topic among etymologist, it’s generally accepted that the f-word is derived from the German “fuk” or “fukkon,” meaning, “to make quick movements to and fro.” We’ll let you draw your own analysis of how that one evolved into today’s current diverse selection of meanings for the f-word.
The f-word became dictionary official when it was published in John Florio’s 1598 Italian-English dictionary, A Worlde of Wordes, defining a “fottitrice” as a “woman fucker, swiver, etc.”
What Once Was Lost, is Now Found
By the late 18th century, the English-speaking world had all but lost interest in the f-word, with it almost entirely disappearing from dictionaries until 1965. It was then that the creators of The Penguin Dictionary made the f-word official again for the world.