Fuck: Etymology And History of the King Swearword

Fuck, or “beeeep” as it is more commonly known on national TV and radio – a single word with a wider emotional range than Steven Seagal displayed in his entire acting career. When Bruce Lee said we should be like water, free flowing and taking the shape any container, what he actually meant was we should be like the kind swearword. Countable, uncountable, a person, an act, an emotion – the word is metaphysics boiled down to a single syllable. No wonder that the word is regarded as holy fuck with a halo over it and in some instances, even used interchangeably with God.

But on a less philosophical note, it is like a word with an identity personality disorder.

Fuck is like the Faceless guy from Game of Thrones.

Fuck has more nuances and interpretations than a woman saying “I’m fine.”

Fuck is to language what fucking is to a relationship.

Fuck is —ok, we should stop fucking around at this point. So where did the word come from? Even something as elusive and fluid as a word must have an origin.

There are many motherfuckers, but who is the fuckmother?

Let’s start with who the fuckmother isn’t – The King. One popular theory suggests that the word is an acronym for Fornication Under the Command of the King. It refers to a time when rampant plagues fucked the population up so bad that the King had to order people to “union” in order to reproduce. A license to fuck if you will. Couples would hang signs, saying “F.U.C.K,” which were basically the original Do Not Disturb sign.

Unfortunately, this theory is too good to be true.

One of the first known appearances of the word were in names. John Le Fucker, who may have been an asshole of French descent. Mr. FuckBeggar, likely the beta male’s archetype. And of course, Roger Fuckebythenavale, which sounds like a horny house in a Game of Thrones porn parody.

But as far as we know, these fucks were meaningless, and not the fun, casual kind. No, they were impotent, devoid of substance, imposters of fuck. They were like if fuck was friendzoned by language.

It wasn’t until 1475, when William Dunbar, a Scotsman and a poet at that, which is basically fuck personified, saw the word for what it truly could be. He wrote “by his feirris he would have fukkit,” which basically means that the protagonist’s boner was a telltale sign of his bad intentions.

Because Scottish and English have been largely infused with viking DNA, many believe the word comes from the Norwegian “fukka,” meaning to copulate, the Swedish words “fock” – penis and “focka,” meaning to copulate, strike, push (or in whatever order floats your boat) Focka – to copulate, strike, push, or the Dutch “fokken,” meaning to breed. Other believes fuck derives from the German “ficken,” meaning to make quick movements, to rub.

But who gives a fuck? It’s basically tomato- tomahto, potato-potahto, fuck or just watch Netflix and chill – the idea is all the same.

Fast forward a couple of centuries, to a time when sex, drugs and rock and roll, or basically the Holy Trinity of fuck, were severely oppressed. The terrible word was omitted from the Oxford English Dictionary and didn’t appear in a single dictionary between 1795 and 1965, until“The Penguin Dictionary” said “Fuck it!”and printed it first.

But even during that great oppression, like life itself, fuck always found a way.

For example, author John Brophy notes in “Songs and Slang of the British Soldier” from the beginning of the 20th century:
“It became so common that an effective way for the soldier to express this emotion was to omit this word. Thus, if a sergeant said, ‘Get your —-ing rifles!’ it was understood as a matter of routine. But if he said ‘Get your rifles!’ there was an immediate implication of urgency and danger.”

So basically, the word is like music, because like “the music is not in the notes, but in the silence between them,” even the absence of fuck can basically mean “Fuck!”

Speaking of notes, on a final one, consider this: one study found that cursing during pain helps relieve it. So fuck can be an expression of pain and a painkiller. The word gives pain life and it also sentences pain to death. So basically, fuck gives birth to pain. It is pain’s mother. And without pain, there’s no pleasure. And without pleasure or pain, there’s no life. Fuck is the pleasure and the pain, the thrill and the agony, life and death, science and poetry. Fuck is everything.