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What is the real etymology of the English word 'fuck'?

asked 2017-03-30 03:09:56 -0400

A S Sundar gravatar image

The etymolgy of the word'fuck' available in various sources appear hazy,uncertain or guess work.

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answered 2017-03-30 22:20:42 -0400

Sarah R. gravatar image

updated 2017-03-30 22:21:28 -0400

Thanks for asking!

Most of the "folk etymologies" of "fuck" are completely fabricated. You've probably heard stories like the one that claims it came from some acronym or another, or the even sillier story about it coming from an onomatopoeia. Both, and a host of others, are total nonsense.

Now that THAT'S out of the way, the problem with tracing the etymology of "fuck" is that it's historically taboo, and taboo words are not often documented in easily traceable ways--the word in question was left out of the OED in the original edition, the OED being the most exhaustive etymological dictionary at it's time or now. And of course, etymology in general is kind of a strange beast, often complicated in unexpected ways. (The word "ravenous" does not come from "raven," despite the similarity, the word "they" is not a naturally occurring English word but is borrowed from Old Norse, and there's a real possibility that the words "horse" and "curriculum" come from the same etymological source.)

All that is to say that, I'm sorry, but the "real" etymology of "fuck" is simply uncertain. But rest assured, it's far from "guesswork."

Written versions are documented as far back as the 1500s, and the most probable etymology is that it is a borrowing from an Old Low German word, which also gives rise to modern German "ficken," of the same meaning. For the most accurate and reliable etymological information, I suggest the Online Etymology Dictionary and the Oxford English Dictionary (which does, in fact, include taboo words now.)

Hope that helps!

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Asked: 2017-03-30 03:09:56 -0400

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Last updated: Mar 30 '17