Swear Words, Part 2

There are two different types of swear words: the calm, it’s-not-a-big-deal and the strong, offensive words like the word fuck. When I hear the word fuck anywhere, I instantly turn my head and see what the problem is or run away as someone screams it at the top of their lungs. Either way, it’s not a soft, calm offensive word. Where did this word come from and why does it mean…wait, what is the exact definition?

According to Merriam-Webster’s dictionary app, is define as “usually obscene: copulate; usually vulgar: mess — used with with,” but as a verb. The noun meaning, which wasn’t used until 1680, means the same as the verb, but also adds, “usually vulgar — used especially with the as a meaningless intensive.” Merriam-Webster states fuck was first used in 1503 and is “akin to Dutch fokken, to breed cattle,” but in the “Swedish dialect fokka means to copulate.”

How did this term come to mean dirty coitus?

There was a monastery in Ely, England that housed dirty-minded monks. This allegation was mentioned in a fifteenth-century anonymous poem written with a quirky combination of Latin and English:

Non sunt in celi

Quifuccant wivys in Heli


They are not in heaven

Who fuck wives in Ely

It wasn’t until 1535 the modern-day spelling of fuck was finally recorded, but this time by bishops. The text said, bishops “may fuck thair fill and be vnmaryit” (“may fuck their fill and unmarried”). The next time you hear fuck being hollered or whispered, you can tell them to thank the bishops for transcribing this modern-day word, and the Dutch and the Swedes for its meaning.