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By Michelle Tilley for BitchBuzz

So, everyone swears, right? I know I do when I stub my toe - "Shit!", when I realise I've left my keys at home - "Bollocks!", when my phone dies - "Crap!" - and so on. I also swear for emphasis - "Abso-fucking-lutely", "I don't fucking believe it!" etc.

I swear a lot: - when I should, when I should know better, whenever. I think my most commonly used swear word is "Fuck" - I mean I've used it four times in this article already and I'm only on my second fucking paragraph! It's also one of the most commonly used and most offensive swear words in the English language.

When I was a kid and learning/using my first swear words - like everyone, I think I heard them first at school  - my mum told me that the word "fuck" was actually an acronym and stood for "frequent use of carnal knowledge" - which is turns out is bullshit. Everyone knows that the word "fuck" has something to do with sex - to fuck, I fuck, you fuck, he/she/it fucks, we fuck etc. But what does it mean exactly, and are we using it properly?

Quite simply - I don‘t think we are.

In the run up to this article I did some research, asking many, many people when the last time they used the word "fuck" was. For most people it was when something bad had happened or for emphasis.* Which is all wrong, if "fuck" means sex. I've just stubbed my toe - "Sex!" I want to emphasise my point - "I don't sexing believe it!"

Yeah, doesn't really work.

There's no exact first record of when the word was first used, but etymologists (them that tells us where the words come from) generally agree that the word is Germanic in origin and started being used in around the 16th Century. And it did mean sex. It probably came from the Old Germanic word "fucken" which, in turn, came from the Latin words for prick, puncture, pummel and a slang word meaning "to copulate".

There is a highly disturbing record from 1278 of a man named John Le-Fucker - disturbing, because at this time, it was customary for men to be named after their occupations!!!

And it turns out that this is where most of the rumoured origins of the word date back to as well. It's not just my Mum whose etymological skills got a bit fucked up while trying to explain this one. One common story is that when they used to put rapists in the stocks (and we'll leave the discussion about the appropriateness of this punishment for another post), they used to stamp "F.U.C.K." above their heads, to indicate their crime - e.g. "Forced Use of Carnal Knowledge".

My favourite is a story that says that due to population shortages following the Great Plague, there was a royal decree made to encourage the subjects to have more sex, to have more babies, to solve the problem - "Fornicating Under Command of the King" (Fucking. Love. It!).

The word came to be considered as profane by the 1800s and was banned from the Oxford English Dictionary. The first time the word "fuck" was used in literature was in D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterley’s Lover, in 1928. The book was banned and only published after a court battle.

It was finally entered into the Oxford English Dictionary in 1972 - along with the word “cunt”, coincidently. The literal definition is as follows:

Fuck (vulgar slang)

• verb 1 have sexual intercourse with. 2 damage or ruin.

• noun an act of sexual intercourse.

• exclamation a strong expression of annoyance or contempt.

The English language is one of the oldest languages in the world - it pre-dates the Holy Roman Empire. And yet it would appear that in this case, the curses of the few have high jacked the process, because there it is - right in the third line. A word that originates from the Germanic translations of the Latin words for “prick“, “puncture” and “pummel”, and that originally, predominantly served as a euphemism for sex, now has as its official definition “a strong expression of annoyance or contempt”

I have never found sex to be annoying or contemptible - so either we’re using the word “fuck” incorrectly or I haven‘t been doing it right! A number of my former partners on the other hand...(Fuckers)!

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Adriana
It's also an old wives' tale that (rather than rapists being punished), prostitutes were punished "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge"
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Roadie
Being raised a good Catholic boy (coff, coff, choke, gag), I heard that FUCK meant Fornication Under Carnal Knowledge?

Who the fuck cares where it comes from...let's just do it!!!
Lovin My Wife...Lovin Life

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Hank Alvarez
Even though I retired from the classroom five years ago I still teach ESL part time at adult school at night and I couldn't help but chime in on this one. It's a word I'm frequently asked by my immigrant adult students and the dictionary I have says, "FUCK is: fornicating under the consent of the king." Then it goes on to explain that in medieval times when peasants/serfs married the local nobleman had first rights to the bride on their wedding night unless they bought a license. The license would be displayed over their door notifying everyone that they were in fact fornicating under the consent of the king.

It goes on to explain the various other uses of the word in conjunction with others. The sad thing is that when we're entering campus the high school kids are leaving and after listening to them I think that's the only word in their vocabulary these days. They use it as an all purpose part of speech; the verb to fuck, the adjective: their math test was real mother fucker, etc. I counted the words in this one young man's tirade and out of twenty three only eight were not swear words. And these kids are going to lead us? I teach my students that unless you've totally lost control or you're discussing sex, it' a word best used in the bedroom. Hank 
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