- For the musical group, see Fuck (band).
When the word was expelled from polite usage, becoming profane, is unclear. Some evidence indicates that, in some English-speaking locales, it was considered acceptable as late 17th century meaning 'to strike' or 'to penetrate'. . Other evidence indicates that it may have become "vulgar" as early as the 16th century in England; thus other reputable sources such as the Oxford English Dictionary contend the true etymology is still uncertain, but appears to point to an Anglo-Saxon [English] origin that then in later times spread to the British colonies and worldwide. The two seemingly contradictory hypotheses might reflect cultural and/or regional English dialects.
Modern use and status
In the modern English-speaking world, the word is usually considered highly offensive. English-speaking countries often censor it on television and the radio. It is considered the most severe four-letter word.
Non-English speaking cultures tend to recognize the word's vulgarity within many cultures, but because the word has less effect, or there are no such censorship rules, they generally do not censor it. For example, American rap songs are frequently played, on European radio, with the word "fuck" in the clear. In one case, the album 97BT99 by Japanese rock group Buck-Tick contains an errata sheet which includes correcting a song title from My Facking Valentine to My Fucking Valentine; given that the song appears twice on the album, and is spelled correctly on the package one of the two times it appears, it is clear that the misspelling was a typo and not censorship.
Proof of the more relaxed attitude about this English word in non-English countries was very publicly visible on billboards around the downtown of Paris, France in the early 1990s. They featured a woman sticking her tongue out in defiance, along with the slogan "Préservatifs Fuck le SIDA" ("Condoms fuck AIDS").
Despite the word's undisputed status as "impolite" and "the worst of all swear words," the word is very common in popular usage. It is usually less offensive than less common profanities like "cunt" and "cock", as well as racial and gender slurs. Some have argued that the prolific usage of the word "fuck" has de-vulgarized it, an example of the "dysphemism treadmill".
- "Let's fuck."
- "That was a good fuck."
- "I can't believe she's fucking him!"
- "I fucked my teacher!"
Other uses are dysphemistic: The sexual connotation, usually connected to rape or (in the case of "fuck you" or "fuck yourself") masturbation, is invoked to incite additional disgust, but has nothing to do with the matter of discussion.
- "Fuck you!" or "Go fuck yourself!" (I don't like you; leave me alone.)
- "He's a dumb fuck." (He's an idiot.)
- "Sorry, I fucked up your computer." (Sorry, I damaged or crashed your computer.)
- "He's pretty fucked up." (He's mentally or emotionally unstable.)
- "I fucked up on this test." (I did poorly on this test.)
- "Let's fuck around for a couple hours." (Let's waste a couple of hours.)
- "I'm fucked." (Consequence.)
- "What the fuck!" (What on earth just happened?)
- "Shut the fuck up!" (Stop Talking.)
- "I'm so fucked up right now." (I am extremely drunk or high on drugs/generally confused or "messed up"..)
Additionally, other uses are completely vacuous in that there is no desire to offend nor connection to the sexual meaning of the word, and the word could be removed and leave a sentence of identical syntactical meaning. For example, rap music often uses the word "fucking" as a emphatic adjective (I'm the fucking man) for the word's (rhythmic) properties. Insertion of the trochaic word "fucking" is also an exercise for diagnosing the cadence of an English-language word. For example, the word "in-fucking-credible" sounds acceptable to the English ear, and is in fairly common use, while "incredi-fucking-ble" is very clumsy and never used. While neither dysphemistic nor connected to the sexual connotations of the word, even the vacuous usages are considered offensive and gratuitous, and censored in some media. Some vacuous uses include:
- "None of your fucking business!"
- "Un-fucking-believable!" (Very unbelievable)
- "What a fucking great day outside!"
- "Shut the fuck up!"
- "Hey!, Why don't you go outside and play Hide-N-Go-Fuck-Yourself!"
- "Fuck!" (Something unpleasant happened.)
- "He's a great fucker!" (He's a great fellow, not he's sexually competent.)
In the last usage, the word "fucker" is used as a term of endearment rather than antipathy. This usage is not uncommon; to say "you're one smart fucker" is often a term of affection. However, because of its ambiguity and vulgarity, it's best not to use the word "fucker" in the context of another person unless very familiar with him or her, since that affection could be misinterpreted.
Related to "fucker" is the word "motherfucker". Sometimes used as an extreme insult—an accusation of incest— this term is also occasionally used to connote respectful awe. For example, "he's a nasty motherfucker" does not mean "he's filthy and copulates with his mother" but "he's someone to be afraid of." In this context, some gang members even describe themselves as "motherfuckers". The word "motherfucker", unlike "fuck", has not become more accepted in English usage: it is uncommonly used, and still considered highly offensive.
Because of its profane status and versatility, the word "fuck" can be used many times in an English sentence. For example,
- "Fucking fuck those fucking fuckers!" ("Forget about those very disliked people.")
- "Fucking fucker's fucking fucked!" ("It is broken.")
The latter example excellently demonstrates the versatility of the word fuck, as each instance represents a different syntactical usage: an article, a noun, a present participle, and an adjective. Another example of this flexibility is the song "Mercyfuck" (1998) by the singer/songwriter Mary Prankster:
I wish I could fuck all my sorrow away And fuck ’til the dawn of the next fucking day Fuck the chorus and verse, fuck the pain getting worse Fuck it all ’til I burn
I wish I could fuck all of you ’til you see I’m the worst fuck-up in all history Fuck your image and mine, fuck your limp valentine Fuck it all ’til I learn
Because of its vulgar status, the word "fuck" is usually restricted in mass media and barred from titles in the United States. In 2002, when the controversial French film Baise-moi (2000) was released in the USA, its title was changed to Rape Me, rather than the literal Fuck Me, though this may have been for effect. Similarly, the Swedish film Fucking Åmål was retitled Show Me Love.
Online fora and public blogs may censor the word by use of automatic filters. For example, Fark.com replaces the word "fuck" with "fark". Others replace the word with asterisks ("****") to censor it (and other profanities) entirely. To avert these filters, many online posters will use the word "fvck"— a poster to one dating website in 2003 thus invented the phrase "He who fvcks fvssy fvcks fvck-all." ("He who is choosy about sexual partners will have difficulty obtaining sex". The use of "fvssy" for "fussy" is technically unnecessary, since the latter is nowhere considered profane.) This particular alteration is in common usage at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where students use it in reference to the inscriptions on MIT"s neoclassical buildings, in which the letter U is replaced by V. A typical coinage in this idiom would be "I'm fvcked by the Institvte".
Some have claimed that the word "fuck" is more commonly used among blue collar workers than professionals, and that it is therefore a trademark of the lower social classes. However, this claim is unsupported and largely untrue: college students, predominantly middle- and upper-class, frequently use the word among themselves, but more rarely with professors and authority figures. What is true is that the word is more accepted in some social circles than others— truck drivers at lunch would probably meet no reproach using the word "fuck" with co-workers, while it would be very hazardous to a corporate executive's career to use it during a professional presentation. Though this same executive might use the word in private, she almost certainly would not in an office environment.
The word "fuck" is a component of many acronyms, some of which—like SNAFU and FUBAR—date as far back as World War II. Many more recent coinages, such as the shorthand "WTF?" for "what the fuck?", have been widely extant on the Internet, and may count as examples of memes. See the list of acronyms involving the word fuck for a more extensive list of examples.
In situations where using or mentioning the word directly may be considered inappropriate, people often bowdlerize it, either referring to it with terms such as the f-word or the f-bomb (and in particular, the phrase "dropping the F-bomb"), or replacing it with feck, "flip", fudge, freak, fork, fook, fink, fizzuck, frick, frickin, f*ck, f**k, f-u! (or simply eff), fahq, fauck, pock, fock, f0ck, fwck, fyck, fukc, fvck, phoque (actually French for seal), fawk, fcuk, the "1337 speak" terms phuck, puck, funk, or f***, or frig. (Although one dictionary meaning of frig is fuck, the rarity of its use renders it less offensive.) In software contexts, fsck, fuk, fark and f2k are also used. In the formerly British Caribbean nations it is sometimes spelled fock. Fark is a bowdlerization which originated in the British Commonwealth countries, derived from exaggerated pronunciation in, for example, the Australian accent (but see also fark.com).
The fashion house French Connection United Kingdom controversially uses its initials, usually in lower case, fcuk, as a trademark symbol. The word appears on some clothing sold by French Connection, including clothes marketed to teenagers.
The previously-mentioned fsck usage is derived from the Unix command fsck(8) for "file-system check". It has been noted that this command is particularly appropriate, as it may be an option of last resort.
In the Irish sitcom Father Ted the word fuck was replaced with feck, a common slang word in Ireland that was acceptable to audiences in other countries. Similarly, people outside the U.K. sometimes replace fuck with bloody, a milder British expletive similar in function but relatively inoffensive outside that country.
Both versions of Battlestar Galactica use the fictitous expletive frak (also spelled "frack") in the same contexts that fuck would be normally expected. The various versions of The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy often use photon or zark in place of fuck; the 2005 movie features the character Zaphod Beeblebrox saying "zarking-A".
As with other swearwords and taboo words, or intensifiers, fuck is often not used in its original, literal meaning. Rather, it is an intensifier expressing nothing but the speaker's strong emotional involvement (often negatively, but not necessarily: e.g. "fucking good" is a rude way of saying "very good"). In the book Practical English Usage, the two meanings of the word are clearly illustrated by juxtaposing the sentences:
- What are you doing fucking in my bed?
- What are you fucking doing in my bed?
The first sentence means "Why are you copulating in my bed?", while the second merely emphasizes the sentence "What are you doing in my bed?". The second usage is more common than the first. In the former usage, emphasis will more often than not be put on fucking, to convey that it is the literal act of copulating. An acceptable and more common alternative to the latter is:
- What the fuck are you doing in my bed?
"Fuck you!" expresses anger, and thus seems to be more related to "I am so angry at you, I am going to rape you to punish you" (although it carries no connotation of this sort) than to "I would like to lovingly have sexual intercourse with you". It also may be related to "fuck off", which seems to be a reference to masturbation, where it might originally have been a vulgar way of saying "quit bugging me and go back to masturbating or whatever stupid stuff you usually do". It may also express indifference with respect to the well-being of another person or of other people in general, for example reacting to a request, or the imposing of rules, as in "fuck them and their stupid rules".
Surprise or bemusement can be expressed by, "Fuck me!" or "Well, I'll be fucked!" without suggesting an open invitation. Similarly, "Well, fuck me stupid!" expresses even greater surprise. The phrase "What the fuck!" is also used to express surprise, in the same way as "What the hell!". In internet slang this is abbreviated to WTF.
Another use of the word fuck is as a replacement for the word God in profane statements as in "for fuck's sake!" For example "fuck knows," or "who the fuck knows," means something like "I don't know, and neither is anyone ever likely to know". Sometimes, the phrase "Oh my fuck!" is used instead of "Oh my God!"
Meanwhile, fuck can be used as a negation, as in "I know fuck-all", for "I know nothing".
- He fucked her.
- They fucked all night.
Or as an impersonal command:
- I'm not going down there, fuck that, dude!
- I'm not doing that. Fuck outta here! (Forget it!)
As a noun:
- She is a real fuck. (non-specific insult)
- She is a good fuck. (specific reference to sexual skill)
- Eat my fuck. (as an insult)
- We had a good fuck last night. (as a sexual action)
- That was a total cluster fuck. (as one of many things that goes wrong)
- Oh my fuck! (expression of surprise)
- I'm being sent to Bumfuckegypt. (Possibly of military origin)
The interjection fuck is frequently used to express shock, discontent and anger in general.
- Fuck! A punctured tire!
The variation Fuck me! may also be used to express great shock or surprise, not necessarily in a negative sense.
- Fuck! They've hacked this computer!
- Fuck! This is the best movie EVER!
Another variation sometimes used is fuckin' a!.
The present participle fucking (or fuckin' ) is commonly used to intensify a verb or noun. As described earlier, it is used more negatively than positively.
- My fucking boss made me work all weekend.
- She is fuckin' hot.
In addition, the present participle is sometimes inserted in the middle of a word as an intensifier, a process known as expletive infixation. The rules for insertion of the "fucking"-infix are regular: "fucking" may only be inserted in a multisyllabic word between metrical feet (also known as a tmesis). For example:
- that was abso-fuckin-lutely cool!
The past participle fucked connotes that something is completely useless, destroyed, or messed up; applied to a person, this implies either exhaustion or drunkenness. For example:
- The hard drive crashed, so now the database is fucked.
- Your engine's fucked because you forgot to change the oil!
- Now that the electricity is out, your computer is fucked.
- You were completely fucked last night.
(This connotation can also be found as a transitive verb: He totally fucked his engine when he forgot to change the oil.)
"To fuck up" means to ruin, and the related "to be fucked up" generally connotes inebriation (through alcohol or psychoactives) in the United States. Although "to be fucked up" in the right context refers to physical or emotional injuries/issues in the US, this can be its primary meaning in other English speaking countries.
- I did ten shots in ten minutes, and now I'm totally fucked up!
- The bouncer really fucked up that guy who kept causing trouble.
- My sister's been really fucked up since her fiancé dumped her. (could also refer to drunkenness, depending on the context)
Describing something as "to be fucked up" can mean that it is morally or otherwise "wrong".
- She stole my wallet while I was passed out; that's so fucked up!
"To fuck over" connotes betrayal or a generally unfavorable act.
- Yeah, he slept with my girlfriend. I can't believe he fucked me over like that!
- I got fucked over at work today they promoted my assistant instead of me.
Prepended to another word, the sound "f" is sometimes used to evoke the entire expletive, with an intensifying sense.
- That's fugly (fucking ugly).
- You fucktard (fucking retard).
- You flooser! (fucking loser)
- Her name is, fuck... What was her name again?
The etymology of fuck has given rise to a great deal of speculation, which should be regarded skeptically. The authoritative Oxford English Dictionary is quite cautious in providing an etymology for this word. In the quotation below, the dictionary's usual abbreviations are spelled out for clarity:
- Early modern English fuck, fuk, answering to a Middle English type *fuken (weak verb) [which is] not found; ulterior etymology unknown. Synonymous German ficken cannot be shown to be related.
The first known occurrence, in code because of its unacceptability, is in a poem composed in a mixture of Latin and English sometime before 1500. The poem, which satirizes the Carmelite friars of Cambridge, England, takes its title, “Flen flyys”, from the first words of its opening line, “Flen, flyys, and freris”; that is, “Fleas, flies, and friars”. The line that contains fuck reads “Non sunt in coeli, quia gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk.” The Latin words “Non sunt in coeli, quia,” mean “They (the friars) are not in heaven, since.” The code “gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk” is easily broken by simply substituting the preceding letter in the alphabet, keeping in mind differences in the alphabet and in spelling between then and now: i was then used for both i and j; v was used for both u and v; and two v's were used for w. This yields “fvccant (a fake Latin form) vvivys of heli.” The whole thus reads in translation: “They are not in heaven since they fuck wives of Ely (a town near Cambridge).” From The American Heritage Dictionary, 4th Edition.
As the OED notes, some have attempted to draw a connection to the German word ficken (to fuck, in dialects: to rub, to scratch, and historically to strike).
A possible etymology is suggested by the fact that the Common Germanic fuk-, by an application of Grimm's law, would have as its most likely Indo-European ancestor *pug-, which appears in Latin and Greek words meaning "fight" and "fist". In early Common Germanic the word was likely used at first as a slang or euphemistic replacement for an older word for "intercourse", and then became the usual word for "intercourse".
Other possible connections are to Latin futuere (hence the French foutre, the Italian fottere, the vulgar peninsular Spanish follar and joder, and the Portuguese foder). However, there is considerable doubt and no clear lineage for these derivations. These roots, even if cognate, are not the original Indo-European word for to fuck; that root is likely *h3yebh-, ("h3" is the H3 laryngeal) which is attested in Sanskrit (yabhati) and the Slavic languages (Russian yebat`), among others: compare Greek "oiphô" (verb), and Greek "zephyros" (noun, ref. a Greek belief that the west wind caused pregnancy). However, Wayland Young (who agrees that these words are related) argues that they derive from the Indo-European *bhu- or *bhug-, believed to be the root of "to be", "to grow", and "to build". [Young, 1964]
Spanish follar has a different root; according to Spanish etymologists, the Spanish verb "follar" (attested in the 19th century) derives from "fuelle" (bellows) from Latin "folle(m)" < Indo-European "bhel-"; ancient Spanish verb folgar (attested in the 15th century) derived from Latin "follicare", ultimately from follem/follis too.
Some have supposed that fuck has cognates in other Germanic languages, such as Middle Dutch fokken (to thrust, to copulate), dialectical Norwegian fukka (to copulate), and dialectical Swedish focka (to strike, copulate) and fock (penis). A very similar set of Latin words that have not yet been related to these are those for hearth or fire, "focus/focum" (with a short o), fiery, "focilis", Latin and Italian for hearthly/hearthling, "foc[c]ia/focac[c]ia", and fire, "focca", and the Italian for bonfire, "focere". But these words came from New Latin, centuries after Middle Dutch.
There is perhaps even an original Celtic derivation; futuere being related to battuere (to strike, to copulate); which may be related to Irish bot and Manx bwoid (penis). The argument is that battuere and futuere (like the Irish and Manx words) comes from the Celtic *bactuere (to pierce), from the root buc- (a point). An even earlier root may be the Egyptian petcha (to copulate), which has a highly suggestive hieroglyph. Or perhaps Latin "futuere" came from the root "fu", Common Indo-European "bhu", meaning "be, become" and originally referred to procreation.
There are several urban-legend fake etymologies postulating an acronymic origin for the word. In the most popular version, it is said that the word "fuck" came from Irish law. If a couple committing adultery were "Found Under Carnal Knowledge" they would be penalized, with "FUCK" written on the stocks above them to denote the crime. Variants of this include "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge", "Fornication Under Carnal Knowledge", and "Forced Unlawful Carnal Knowledge", a label supposedly applied to the crime of rape. In another story, a sign reading "Fornication Under Consent of the King" was supposedly placed on signs above houses in medieval England during times of population control. All these acronyms were never heard before the 1960s, according to the authoritative lexicographical work, The F-Word, and so are backronyms.
History of usage and censorship
The earliest reference appears to be the name "John Le Fucker", which John Ayto's Dictionary of Word Origins dates to 1278. What John did to earn this name is unknown.
Its first known use as a verb meaning to fornicate is in a poem titled "Flen flyys" some time before 1500. Written half in English and half in Latin, the poem includes the word fuccant, a hybrid of English root with Latin conjugation, disguised in the text by a simple code. It was originally written as gxddbov, and is decrypted by substituting each letter with the letter which precedes it in the alphabet (keep in mind the alphabet that was used at the time).
While Shakespeare never used the term explicitly, he hinted at it in comic scenes in several plays. The Merry Wives of Windsor (IV.i) contains focative case (see vocative case). In Henry V (IV.iv), Pistol threatens to firk (strike) a soldier, a euphemism for fuck.
Rise of modern usage
After Norman Mailer's publishers convinced him to bowdlerize fuck as fug in his work The Naked and the Dead (1948), Tallulah Bankhead supposedly greeted him with the quip, "So you're the young man who can't spell fuck." (In fact, according to Mailer, the quip was devised by Bankhead's PR man. He and Bankhead never met until 1966 and did not discuss the word then.) The rock group The Fugs named themselves after the Mailer euphemism.
The first short story to include fuck in its title was probably Kurt Vonnegut's "The Big Space Fuck", originally published in 1972. Exhibiting Vonnegut's characteristic blend of pessimism and humor, this story tells of a polluted and overpopulated Earth. On midnight, 4 July 1989, the United States fires the Arthur C. Clarke, a missile whose warhead contains eight hundred pounds of freeze-dried semen, aiming at the Andromeda Galaxy. This story, which contains many allusions to earlier Vonnegut works (such as character names and the "chrono-synclastic infundibula"), was written as a personal favor to Harlan Ellison. First published in Ellison's anthology Again, Dangerous Visions, it is reprinted in Palm Sunday.
In 1965, the critic Kenneth Tynan was the first person to say fuck on BBC television, during BBC-3, a late-night live satirical talk show hosted by Robert Robinson, causing a furor and a short TV career for Tynan. For British broadcasting, the next stage was reached in 1976 when the word was pointedly used in a prime-time early evening show, during a live interview with the Sex Pistols.
The films Ulysses and I'll Never Forget What's'isname (both 1967) are contenders for being the first film to use the word. Since the U.S. adoption of the MPAA film rating system, use of the word has been accepted in R-rated movies, and under the older rules, use of the word would automatically cause the film to be given an R rating. Later rule changes permit a single, non-sexual, strictly exclamatory use of the word in PG-13 movies.
Since the 1970s, the use of the word fuck in R-rated movies has become so commonplace in mainstream American movies that it is rarely noticed by most audiences. Nonetheless, a few movies have made exceptional use of the word, to the point where such films as Scarface (1983), Pulp Fiction, The Big Lebowski, South Park: Bigger Longer and Uncut and Goodfellas are known for its extensive use. The main character's last name of "Focker" is a running joke in the movie Meet the Parents and its sequel Meet the Fockers. In the popular comedy Four Weddings and a Funeral, it is the chief word, repeatedly uttered, during the opening five minutes. One of the most humorous tirades demonstrating various usages of the word appears in the comedy, Planes, Trains & Automobiles (1987), where Steve Martin expresses his dissatisfaction in his treatment by a rental car agency. In several PG-rated movies, however, the word is used, mainly because at the time there was no PG-13 rating and the MPAA did not want to give the films R ratings; for instance, All the President's Men (1976), where it is used seven times, The Kids Are Alright (1979), where it is used twice, and The Right Stuff (1983), where it is used five times. Spaceballs (1987) is an anomaly in that it was rated PG after the 1984 introduction of the PG-13 rating, yet it includes the line, "Out of Order?! Fuck! Even in the future nothing works!" In the PG-13 rated movie Soapdish (1991), Sally Field, played an aging soap opera actress. Appalled that her costume included a turban, she complained to her show's producer "What I feel like is Gloria-fucking-Swanson!"
Films edited for broadcast use matching euphemisms so that lip synching will not be thrown off. One televised version of Quentin Tarantino's Jackie Brown, for instance, had the actors dub in the words frick, Nubian, and melon farmer for fuck, nigger, and motherfucker, respectively. http://netremover.pisem.net/mover.htm In similarly dubbed versions of Die Hard and Die Hard 2, Bruce Willis' catchphrase "Yippee-ki-yay, motherfucker" is replaced by "Yippee-ki-yay, Mister Falcon" or "Yippee-ki-yay, Kemo Sabe."
In a similar vein, many stand-up comedians who perform for adult audiences make liberal use of the word fuck. While George Carlin's use of the word is an important part of his stage persona, other comedians (such as Andrew Dice Clay) have been accused of substituting vulgarity and offensiveness for genuine creativity through overuse of the word. Billy Connolly was a pioneer of the use of the word in his shows for general audiences.
Canadian prime minister Pierre Trudeau caused a minor scandal when opposition MPs stated he had told them to "fuck off" in the House of Commons in February 1971. Pressed by journalists, Trudeau later unconvincingly stated he may have said (or mouthed) "'fuddle duddle' or something like that", a phrase which then took on a humorous connotation of that event for Canadians.
During the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention, Connecticut Senator Abraham Ribicoff, during a speech in which he nominated the anti-Vietnam War candidate George McGovern, departed from his written text to say, "If George McGovern were president, we wouldn't have these Gestapo tactics in the streets of Chicago." Many conventioneers, having been appalled by the response of the Chicago police to the simultaneously occurring anti-war demonstrations, promptly broke into ecstatic applause. As television cameras focused on an indignant Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, lip-readers throughout America claimed to have observed him shouting, "Fuck you, you Jew motherfucker." Defenders of the mayor would later claim that he was calling Senator Ribicoff a "faker" or a "fink".
Freedom of expression
In 1971, the U.S. Supreme Court decided that the mere public display of fuck is protected under the First and Fourteenth Amendments and cannot be made a criminal offense. In 1968, Paul Robert Cohen had been convicted of "disturbing the peace" for wearing a jacket with "FUCK THE DRAFT" on it. The conviction was upheld by the Court of Appeals and overturned by the Supreme Court. Cohen v. California, 403 U.S. 15 (1971).
Pornographer Larry Flynt, representing himself before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1983 in a libel case, shouted, "Fuck this court!" during the proceedings and called the justices "nothing but eight assholes and a token cunt". Chief Justice Warren E. Burger had him arrested for contempt of court but the charge was later dismissed.
In Colorado Springs, tavern owner Leonard Carlo had over 29 signs containing the word "fuck", including the slogans "Leonard's II Fucking Much", "No Fucking Children, Animals, Tabs or Checks!", and "No fucking tap or draw beer". Signs on the restroom doors read "Fucking Men" and "Fucking Women". Also, the top of Leonard's bald head was tattooed with the words "Fuck U. Leave Me the FUCK Alone." A state liquor agent removed all 29 signs from Leonard's Bar on August 31, 1999 because he believed the signs violated a state regulation that prohibits profanity in bars.
In the United States, the Federal Communications Commission fines stations for the broadcast of "indecent language", but in 2003 ruled that the airing of "This is really, really fucking brilliant!" by U2 member Bono after receiving a Golden Globe Award was neither obscene nor indecent. In early 2004 the FCC decided to review that use saying "The F-word is one of the most vulgar, graphic and explicit descriptions of sexual activity in the English language"; a fine may result.
On June 22, 2004, while participating in the U.S. Senate class photo, Vice President Dick Cheney and Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy from Vermont had a personal exchange that garnered headlines in the United States. After comments by Leahy, Cheney allegedly told him to "...go fuck [him]self", which was later characterized as "a frank exchange of views." In response, Leahy said that Cheney "was just having a bad day." Others have pointed to this incident and the events that led up to it as evidence of a culture of extreme partisanship that has developed in Washington. Senate rules prohibit profanity while the Senate is in session, but Cheney did not violate the rules because the Senate was not in session at the time.
Most broadcasters replace fuck (and other so-called four-letter words) on broadcast television and radio with a beep "at times of day when there is a reasonable risk that children may be in the audience", or have the word/words silenced out, or a reverse of the sound of the word/words in question is used.
Following the death of Monty Python legend Graham Chapman in 1989, a speech at his memorial was read by fellow Monty Python actor John Cleese, which claims to be the first time someone has said the word fuck in a British memorial service.
US TV: Saturday Night Live
Various people (primarily musical guests) have said the word on the weekly American late-night comedy show Saturday Night Live, generally with little consequence. On the February 26, 1981 show Charles Rocket, playing J.R. Ewing, said clearly, "Oh man, it's the first time I've been shot in my life. I'd like to know who the fuck did it." He and the rest of the cast (except Joe Piscopo and Eddie Murphy) were fired soon thereafter. The show was in a slump at the time, so Rocket's indiscretion may only have been the straw that broke the camel's back.
Rocket was not the only SNL performer to say fuck on-the-air. Other performers include Paul Shaffer in the late 1970's and Norm MacDonald in 1997. "Something got caught in my throat," says MacDonald in the book Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live, "and I went, 'What the fuck was that?' If I hadn't brought attention to it, I don't think anybody would have even heard it. I pointed it out, because I couldn't believe I said it."
More recently, popular funk metal band System of a Down dropped the dreaded word while performing their song 'B.Y.O.B.' on SNL on Saturday, May 7. Near the end of their song, which had been heavily censored, guitarist Daron Malakian yelled "fuck yeah!" and it got past the censors. Naturally, purveyors of decency were outraged.
UK TV: Father Ted
The Channel 4 television comedy series Father Ted introduced to 90s Britain an Irish swear-word which was almost fuck and not quite a euphemism, prolifically used by the drunken and lecherous priest Father Jack Hackett: feck. This was originally a term meaning to steal and is probably derived from the word fetch. This term is becoming a common substitute for fuck in the United Kingdom as a consequence of the popularity of this series, and has been further bowdlerized into feth.
Play: Sex, Fucking and Making Love
The first American play with the word fuck in the title is Sex, Fucking and Making Love. It is being produced in New York fall 2004 by Genesis Productions Worldwide, LLC as an off-off-Broadway production . However Mark Ravenhill's play Shopping and Fucking opened in London, UK in 1996, and also played in the U.S.
Movie: Shaun of the Dead
On the DVD version of the film Shaun of the Dead, it is mentioned in the special features that they must reshoot any scenes containing obscenities, replacing said obscenities with variations of the words. The DVD contains one of the edited-for-television scenes (entitled "Funky Pete"), in which every instance of the word fuck is replaced with funk, and every instance of the word prick is replaced with the term prink.
Cable TV series: Deadwood
"HBO's series Deadwood had a reputation for salty dialogue even before the first episode aired. It was nearly impossible, they said, to keep count of the number of f-words spoken during each program. We took it as a challenge."
Total fucks in series: 1519 Cumulative series FPM: 1.45
Total fucks in Season Two: 688 Average fucks per episode: 98.3 Cumulative Season Two FPM: 1.84
Total fucks in Season One: 831 Average fucks per episode: 69.3 Cumulative Season One FPM: 1.23
Song: Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back)
In April 2004 the controversial R&B song "Fuck It (I Don't Want You Back)" by Eamon became the first song with an obscenity in its title to reach the top 20 in the US. The word fuck was censored both on the packaging and on the radio edit. The single also reached #1 in the charts of several countries including UK and Australia. A reply to that song, titled "F.U.R.B. (Fuck U Right Back)", by Frankee was also very successful, and also reached #1 in the UK in May 2004, and then in Australia in June 2004. American band Nine Inch Nails' 2000 single, "Starsuckers, Inc." features a lyrical re-work of the album version, "Starfuckers, Inc." intended to give the song a chance of broadcast both on U.S. television and radio. It was often referred to by Radio DJs as "Farstuckers, Inc." (which is "Starfuckers, Inc" with the ST and F transposed).The track In Heaven on the Fatboy Slim album You've Come a Long Way, Baby repeats fucking a total of 108 times in just under four minutes.
In the early commercial days of the Internet, the domain name registrar Network Solutions blocked certain obscene words from being used. There was no such restriction in the UK and a group of fans of VIZ comic registered the domain fuck.co.uk. Their website claimed to be promoting the Fulchester Underwater Canoeing Klubb (Fulchester being the fictional setting of many of the stories in VIZ). The name now hosts a pornography site.
The verb "fuck" in different languages
- Afrikaans: fok, naai, steek ("fok my", "fok jou", "ek het haar genaai")
- Albanian: qi ("qifsha" when used in sentences)
- Amharic: tebeda
- Arabic: neak
- Armenian: kunel
- Bosnian: jebati (to fuck)
- Bulgarian: еба (eba)
- Chinese (Cantonese): diu (屌, but often denoted as the character 小 inside the character 門(). Pronounced like "dew" in English)
- Chinese (Mandarin/Putonghua):
- diao (屌) Also refers to penis, esp. in Northern China; means "cool", "awesome" in Taiwan.
- cao (肏/操) (肏 pronounced "tsaau" and 操 pronounced "tsou")
- Chinese (Taiwanese) also known as Minnanese: gan, (used more by native speakers of Taiwanese, it occurs in the expression "Gan lin nia!" which means, "Fuck your mother!" or "Gan lin tzo gon!" which means "Fuck your ancestors")
- Catalan: follar, cardar, fotre
- Cebuano: iyot
- Croatian: jebati; fukati (probably borrowed from English); karati (literally, to scold)
- Czech: píchat (literally "to thrust", used as a slang word for "to copulate"); šukat, šoustat, mrdat (all three vulgar, to have sex [with], to fuck); kurva! (vulgar, literally "bitch", used as an expletive)
- Danish: kneppe or knalde like the Norwegian word. Pule is known but rarely used.
- Dutch: neuken (also, the Dutch verb fokken, meaning to breed animals, usually for pedigree)
- Esperanto: fiki
- Estonian: nikkuma, nussima, keppima
- Filipino: kantot
- Finnish: vittu (Curseword, "Voi vitun vittu!!"="Fucking fuck!!", literal meaning of "vittu" is "cunt") nussia (verb)
- French: baiser (to have sex with); foutre (dismissive: "Va te faire foutre!" meaning "Go screw yourself!"; "Fous le camp!" meaning "Fuck off!" or "Shove aside!"), nique (As in "nique ta mère!" meaning "fuck your mother!")
- French (Quebec): fourrer (literally, to stuff); the adjective fucké, a borrowing, means broken or out of luck, and is not especially profane. See sacre.
- Galician: foder
- German: ficken (to have sex with, pronounced like fucken, just with a short e instead of the u) ¹
- Greek: gamao, gamo, gamisi; Γαμάω, Γαμώ, Γαμήσι ("g" prounounced softly, as a voiced velar fricative)
- Gujarati: chod ("Ch" as in check & "d" is pronounced softly)
- Hebrew: "lezayen", from noun "zayin", which is a slang word for the penis
- Hindi: chod (चोद)("Ch" as in check & "d" is pronounced softly)
- Hungarian: baszni
- Icelandic: ríða (pronounced "ree-tha" with a soft th-sound, literally: to ride)
- Indonesian: ngentot
- Italian: fottere, scopare, trombare
- Japanese: fuzakeru ², yaru "to do, to give, to have sex with" くたばれ, kutabare, "To die, to have sex with"
- Kannada: kay-yi
- Korean: "ssi-bal" (씨발), pronounced like the English words "she ball"
- Latvian: pist
- Lithuanian: pisti
- Malay: puki (likely an adoption of fuck) or pukimak (likely an adoption of motherfucker) or celaka (bastard) ³
- Malayalam: Punn
- Maori: onioni
- Marathi: झव,Zav
- Nepali: chiknu (verb, pronounced chicknu'चिक्नु')
- Norwegian: knulle, pule
- Persian: گاییدن ga-yee-dan
- Piers: "Đụ mẹ coh-bra-dawg
- Polish: jebać (pronounced yebatch), Pierdolić (pronounced pee-erdolitch), kurwa (pronounced koorva, used as an interjection)
- Portuguese: foder (or comer subjectively used, because it means "to eat"; in Northern Portugal pinar ou montar is also used; in Brazil fuder is commonly seen)
- Romanian: a fute
- Russian: yebat [ебать] (transitive), yebatsa [ебаться] (intransitive). Tom Clancy, in The Bear and the Dragon, has one Russian character use the phrase "Yob tvoyu maht!" (translated: Fucked your mother)
- Samoan: mea This is not used as a swear word but is not used in polite company. Other anatomical and physiological words are used as swear words but not "mea" or any other related word.
- Serbian: јебати (jebati), карати (karati)
- Slovak: jebať, drbať
- Spanish: Follar
- Argentina: coger (this same verb in Spain and other countries means "to grab")
- Chile: culear
- Colombia: pichar or tirar (the last one means "to throw" in most other Spanish-speaking countries)
- Cuba: singar similar to mexican chingar
- Ecuador: tirar, culear, pegarse un palo, pegarse un polvo (meaning "to take a dust" in most other countries)
- Mexico: chingar or less but commonly used joder also vergar (translatable as "to dick")
- Peru: cachar, tirar and, less so, culear
- Spain: joder (usually as an all-purpose expletive, can be accompanied by other expletives) or follar
- Swedish: knulla
- Tamil: Oatha which means "Fucker", pundala okka which means "Fuck her", Thai Oli which means Mother fucker, okkala oli which means "Sister fucker"
- Telugu: Dengu
- Thai: เย็ด yet (to fuck), เย็ดแม่ yet mae or แม่ง maeng (fuck your mother) 4 
- Turkish: sikmek (Pronounced "seek-make"), düzmek, siktir (="fuck off")
- Urdu: چودنا (verb), chod("Ch" as in check & "d" is pronounced softly)
- Vietnamese: đụ or đéo
- Example: "Đụ mẹ mày!" or "Đéo má mày!" (insulting words similar to "motherfucker", where 'mẹ' is pronounced meh and 'mày' is pronounced may)
- Yiddish: shtupn (שטופּן) (literally "to stuff")
¹ On an interesting side note, the word ficken was seemingly not used as an expletive in German until recently. (It was, however, a taboo word, but this due to its literal meaning, and its belonging to vulgar speech.) That today fick dich! is used as a common (though very strong) expletive meaning fuck you! is clearly a borrowing from English. The general all-purpose taboo expletive and correct translation of fuck! remains Scheiße, literally shit, or, increasingly common, fuck used in untranslated verbatim.
² Ambiguously translated back to English as "to fool around". Many have argued that a verbal translation of "fuck" into Japanese is impossible, but Japanese vulgarity largely comes from speaking in a forceful and explicit manner. Offensive language is communicated through directness, self-importance, emphatics, and curtly abbreviated expressions. When "fuzakeru" is lazily truncated by dropping the "fu" and the verb ending "ru" while adding "na" to mean "not" and "yo" for exclamation, we have zakennayo! which if uttered aggressively, sounds like "Don't fuck with me, asshole!" to the Japanese ear, even though its root literally translates as "don't mess around". It should also be noted that almost all American curse words, including "fuck", are recognizable to the Japanese because of their use in films.
³ 'Puki' in Malay actually means 'vagina' or 'faraj' in Malay while 'pukimak' means 'your mum's vagina'. The more common word for fuck is 'pantat', as described by the Kamus Dewan (A Malay Language Dictionary). 'Celaka', although is a foul word, has no sexual connection. It is used to express an angry situation. Indonesian language (Malay language borrows a lot of words from them) uses the word 'celaka' for accident(more correctly, like car accidents).
4 Thai has a medical word for sexual intercourse (which translated back means "genitalia touching") and at least two slang versions for it. But even the slang versions wouldn't work as insults. To the amusement of Thais, the name of the German automaker Audi sounds like one of the two slang versions. To confuse matters, Thais have a vegetable whose name sounds like fuck (it irritates some tourists when they hear the name because they think they are being insulted). But the correct pronunciation for this vegetable is "fug" with the "g" like in "guest".
- Jesse Sheidlower, The F Word (1999) ISBN 0375706348. Presents hundreds of uses of fuck and related words.
- Michael Swan, Practical English Usage, OUP, 1995, ISBN 019431197X
- Philip J. Cunningham, Zakennayo!: The Real Japanese You Were Never Taught in School, Plume (1995) ISBN 0452275067
- Wayland Young, Eros Denied: Sex in Western Society. Grove Press/Zebra Books, New York 1964.
- Four-letter word
- Seven dirty words
- Sexual slang
- This Be The Verse
- Fucking, Austria
- Fuddle duddle
- Nil by Mouth
- A thorough and amusing legal brief on the history and constitutionality of "Fuck". All relevant cases are cited.
- slate.com on fuck
- American Heritage Dictionary, see "Word History" for an enciphered(!) usage of the word in the ribald sixteenth-century poem, Flen flyys.
- "Cheney Dismisses Critic With Obscenity." Washington Post article on the 2004 Cheney-Leahy incident.
- "Online Etymology Dictionary." Some Emtomology Research
- "Urban Dictionary." Peer-Reviewed Definitions of Fuck
- History of the "F-Word" A humorous flash video explaining the word "Fuck."