Where Did The F-Word Come From? Its First Use May Have Just Been Discovered, So Here's A Brief History Of The Word
If you're anything like me, the word "fuck" is probably only behind "the," "a," and "is" in terms of words you're most likely to say at any given moment. After all it's an incredibly useful word that can mean practically anything — or in the spirit of this article, it means a fuckload, not fuck-all. It's also a word with lots of history — and now we know exactly how old it actually is. According to a historian who claims to have found the first recorded use of the f-word, "fuck" is 705 years old. Talk about well-preserved!
According to the Daily Mail, Paul Booth, a professor of medieval history, found the nickname "Roger Fuckebythenavele" included in court rolls from the year 1310 — more than a hundred years before historians have hitherto placed the first usage of the f-bomb. Booth guesses Roger was given the name "Fuckbythenavele" as an insult meant to either mock his skill at making whoopee (that is, he is so bad at having sex that he tries to do it with the navel) or to mock his intelligence (that is, Roger is so dumb that he thinks putting his penis in a bellybutton is how sex works). We have whoever gave him this amazing nickname to thank for being able to say "fuck the patriarchy," "WTF," and anything we're quoting from Veep.
Predictably, though, this isn't the only amazing use of "fuck" in medieval times. I present to you a brief history of the f-word — since, you know, we're guessing your high school history teacher didn't cover it.
1475: "Fuck" As Religious Satire
In the poem "Flen, flyys and freris" (Fleas, flies, and friars), the poet includes the phrase "They are not in heaven, because they fuck wives of Ely," accusing Carmelite monks in Cambridge, England of breaking their vows.
1528: The Angry Monk
A monk includes the phrase "fuckkin Abbot" in the margins of a book. Whether he meant it to accuse another monk of not keeping his vows of celibacy or just as an angry phrase is not known.
1598: "Fuck" Enters the Italian-English dictionary, A Worlde of Wordes
Thus starting a love affair between Italians and swear words that continues today in the movies of Martin Scorsese.
1602: Shakespeare makes a near-miss pun in The Merry Wives of Windsor
He uses the phrase "focative case," a combination of the f-word and the linguistic term "vocative case."
1837: Hero woman is charged with obscenity after telling a group to "go fuck themselves"
This is the first recorded use of the "go fuck yourself" phrasing.
1960: Grove Press wins a court case permitting it to print the word in Lady Chatterley's Lover
The book was written in 1928.
1967: Ulysses becomes the first mainstream Hollywood movie to include the word "Fuck"
I'll Never Forget What's'isname, released later that year, also includes the word.
1972: The Oxford English Dictionary finally includes the word
Previously, it had refused to include it because it was an obscenity. The O.E.D. added "cunt" the same year.
2010: Joe Biden use the word
The vice president tells a celebratory President Obama that his new health care law is a "big fucking deal," apparently not caring that the media in front of him can also hear him.