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F-word etymology

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October 24, 2004, 10:53
shufitz
F-word etymology
aput said, "f-word: I thought the first printed occurrence was in Dunbar's The Flyting of Dunbar and Kennedy (1508): "wan fukkit funling". Of course this was technically in Scots so you could say it wasn't in English, though I claim it as such."

Typo, aput? OED gives as appearance in "about 1503". Of course, if one were to check earlier publications for possible usage, the most-fertile types of publications are perhaps the types to which OED's researchers would not be giving high priority. Big Grin

How odd that OED says "intr. To copulate. trans. (rarely used with female subject.) To copulate with; to have sexual connection with." I'd disagree with the part I've put in red.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: shufitz,
October 24, 2004, 11:01
Cat
quote:
Originally posted by shufitz:
I'd disagree with the part I've put in red phrase.


I'm not so sure, shu. It ties in with the cultural idea that the male is active during sex while the female is passive: the man f***s; the woman is f***ed.

(Particularly if he gets her pregnant then leaves).
October 24, 2004, 11:33
Richard English
I have heard young girls use the word in the same way as young men do.

That, and their propensity to talk about the topic loudly in public (which is how I know that's what they say) seems to be quite a modern development.

And Cat, I am sorry to spoil your young innocence, but I can assure you, from my personal experience, that passivity is not an invariable female trait!


Richard English
October 24, 2004, 12:23
Hic et ubique
Just out of curiousity, what word did they use before 1503?
October 24, 2004, 15:48
jheem
Just out of curiousity, what word did they use before 1503?

Oh, they used the same word we do, it's just that the first instance of it in print is 1503. My favorite synonym from Chaucer's time is swiven, related to our word swivel.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: jheem,
October 24, 2004, 18:42
Kalleh
My favorite synonym from Chaucer's time is swiven, related to our word swivel.

Now, that's not bad at all! Big Grin
October 25, 2004, 13:51
aput
Hm, I'm not sure. It looks like Dunbar has both the first recorded use (1503: Be his feiris he wald haue fukkit) and the first printed use (1508, in the Flyting).
October 25, 2004, 14:05
jheem
Hm, I'm not sure.

You're not suggesting that Dunbar coined the word, are you?
October 25, 2004, 14:10
jerry thomas
... "swivel" ...

On the first morning of the honeymoon the bridegroom is shopping through the TV movie menu. She hears him ask, "Do you want to see Oliver Twist?"

"Might as well," she says, "You've made him do every other trick I ever heard of."

[This ramification of the swivel concept has not yet been filtered ... ]
October 26, 2004, 02:53
Caterwauller
So how did swiven become swivel and change its meaning?


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
October 26, 2004, 06:47
jheem
So how did swiven become swivel and change its meaning?

Swivel, the noun, is derived from the OE verb swífan 'to couple, have intercourse' > ME swiven. The -l is probably a diminutive suffix. The -en in the verb was the infinitival desinence. A swivel is a coupling device; doesn't seem to great a stretch of the imagination ...
October 26, 2004, 12:04
<Asa Lovejoy>
quote:
Originally posted by jheem:
_


Swivel, the noun, is derived from the OE verb _swífan_ 'to couple, have intercourse' >




So does it follow that "screw," as used to mean to have intercourse with derives from the same source?
October 26, 2004, 12:07
<Asa Lovejoy>
quote:


And Cat, I am sorry to spoil your young innocence, but I can assure you, from my personal experience, that passivity is not an invariable female trait!


Amen!
October 26, 2004, 12:13
jheem
So does it follow that "screw,"

Sounds good to me. Was there a doubt?
October 26, 2004, 13:01
wordnerd
quote:
My favorite synonym from Chaucer's time is swiven, related to our word swivel.
Actually, no: my research indicates that they are not precisely synonymous.

As I understand it, older English had two separate transitive verbs, depending on whether the sentence was "He ________s her," or "She ________s him." In the former case the verb would be "to swive"; in the latter case it would be "to quim". [I put the latter in white, on the understanding that in today's british slang it is still used as a noun and is extremely offensive.] The modern verb, of course, can be used in either way, and is not specific to either partner's point of view.
October 26, 2004, 13:53
jheem
my research indicates that they are not precisely synonymous.

Curious, I've not heard this idea before. Do you have any references you could point me at?
October 26, 2004, 18:00
Caterwauller
quote:
Originally posted by Asa Lovejoy:
quote:


And Cat, I am sorry to spoil your young innocence, but I can assure you, from my personal experience, that passivity is not an invariable female trait!


Amen!


I, too, can attest to that . . . but I believe that Cat is referring to the cultural myth that women are always taken. Now, I think it would be interesting to figure out which cultures promoted that myth and which boldly denounced it.


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
October 26, 2004, 18:22
jheem
but I believe that Cat is referring to the cultural myth that women are always taken.

That's how I understood her sentence.
October 26, 2004, 21:01
wordnerd
quote:
Originally posted by jheem: Do you have any references you could point me at?
Here's what I have. They are secondary sources only, since I can't find much Middle English on the net, but at least I have more than one source. Not proof, of course, but suggestive.

1. Apparently John Money noted the distinction in To Quim And To Swive - Linguistic And Coital Parity, Male And Female, 1982 Journal Of Sex Research 18(2):173-176. The article is referenced here (scroll down the left column to item 581). I don't have the full text of that article, but this site explains Money thus:2. In the discussion here (continuing here) between Rueckert, McKenna, Waugh (respectively indicated by black, blue and red type below), the last two gents seem to seem to take the same position. The relevant parts, amid a morass of much more, are:
October 27, 2004, 06:09
jheem
These should be "swive," and "quim," which are obsolete early English. Men would "swive" women, whereas women would "quim" men. Both verb forms for coitus are active and are not indicative of a power imbalance relationship between the sexes engaging in this activity.

Thanks, wordnerd, for the references. It is not clear to me from the above quote that what Money is doing is describing how swive and quim (which is a noun for the female pudend) were used rather than his suggested normative usage. I'll try to find the article and get back to you.

Partridge suggests that quimming for sexual intercourse is a 19th century usage. Hardly Middle English.

I looked in my Old English dictionary and find that swifan meant 'to come to course' and our word swift is from the past particple. No mention of its sexual use. Nothing sexual under cwim either, except that it's a variation of comen whence our to come; it's related to Skt gam. 'to go', Latin venio 'to come', and Gothic qiman 'to come'. The use of the verb for come as a synonym for the climax of sexual intercourse is found in Hittite (don't have the word at hand).

Anyway, I'm still sceptical, but will reserve further opinion until I've read Money's article.
October 27, 2004, 06:12
arnie
Does this thread remind anyone else of that well-known preoccupation of schoolboys: looking up the dirty words in a dictionary? Cool


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
October 27, 2004, 06:22
jheem
Does this thread remind anyone else of that well-known preoccupation of schoolboys: looking up the dirty words in a dictionary?

At least it involves looking up words and discussing them, rather than some of the other non-curricular (polling) activities on the board. Sheesh, I blush. Wink
October 27, 2004, 15:45
Caterwauller
quote:
Originally posted by arnie:
Does this thread remind anyone else of that well-known preoccupation of schoolboys: looking up the dirty words in a dictionary? Cool



Maybe in YOUR day it was just the boys . . . but I distinctly remember looking up dirty words with my girlfriends (of course, I was very sheltered, we didn't do it til college).


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
October 27, 2004, 17:02
<Asa Lovejoy>
IMHO, words aren't "dirty" unless they are so in the minds of those who proscribe them, and then they're only dirty to them. Hey, if Dick Cheney can tell someone to "fuck off," we've come (pun not intended) a long way! Wink
October 27, 2004, 17:14
jheem
we've come (pun not intended) a long way!

Too bad nobody told the FCC.
October 27, 2004, 20:10
shufitz
I find it seriously annoying that the word-in-question is ultimately "origin unknown".

As to 'swive', jheem: I'd thought to check old usages, but could think of one Middle English text that would be on-line. The word appears five times in The Canterbury Tales.
October 27, 2004, 20:59
Kalleh
Is the word "quiff" related at all to "quim?" One meaning of "quiff" is "a woman regarded as promiscuous," though the AHD says the etymology is unknown. My logophile friend says that "quiff" used to be one of the less common synonyms for female pudenda. He encountered it in a novel (though he couldn't remember which one) with a British high society woman who had to reconcile mild nymphomania with her ultra proper pose. Her name was 'Lady Quivering-Quiff'. Big Grin

Does anyone recognize this novel?
October 28, 2004, 06:13
jheem
And had a wife, that held for countenance
A shop, and swived for her sustenance.


Thanks for the usages from Chaucer. We see here one example of a woman doing the swiving. So it seems that swive's subject is not restricted to males.
October 28, 2004, 06:18
jheem
quiff

K., Partridge has three entries for quiff (summarized here): (1) a satisfactory result, spec. an end obtained by means not strictly conventional; (2) to copulate; (3) smartly dressed.

Of the second meaning, he gives a range of 18-20 C. Origin of all three is problematic.
October 28, 2004, 15:41
Caterwauller
quote:
Originally posted by jheem:
_quiff_

K., Partridge has three entries for quiff (summarized here): (1) a satisfactory result, spec. an end obtained by means not strictly conventional; (2) to copulate; (3) smartly dressed.



Seems to me like the first and second definitions are very closely related.


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
October 29, 2004, 07:47
shufitz
quote:
Originally posted by jheem:
Thanks for the usages from Chaucer. We see here one example of a woman doing the swiving. So it seems that swive's subject is not restricted to males.
Agreed; that's why I posted it. Still, with only one case I'd be interested in further research. Any ideas where to find usage-examples from the period?
October 29, 2004, 11:39
jheem
Still, with only one case I'd be interested in further research.

I wasn't saying that a distinction lexically between men doing it and women doing it cannot be possible. (In fact, we've gone over how Latin distinguishes between active and passive oral sex lexically.) I just thought that Money was suggesting a new word usage, not reporting the meanings of a couple of Middle English words for sexual intercourse. It would probably mean a trip to the University library to look at a large Middle English dictionary or some concordances of Middle English literature.
October 29, 2004, 12:37
Caterwauller
"a large Middle English dictionary"

in this particular case, size matters


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
October 29, 2004, 13:04
jheem
in this particular case, size matters

Yes, I'll need one with citations to support the various definitions. Like the OED does ...
October 29, 2004, 13:25
Caterwauller
Ahh - the OED - word nerdvana.


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
October 30, 2004, 09:00
<Asa Lovejoy>
quote:
Originally posted by Caterwauller:
Ahh - the OED - word nerdvana.


Uhhh, CW, that's NOT the Oxford Erotic
Dictionary!
October 30, 2004, 09:27
shufitz
arnie said, "This is the perennial bugbear of forums and newsgroups. Someone starts a serious thread and it attracts a number of light-hearted posts, distracting attention from the more serious offerings."

Well, I thought it this an interesting topic. I've found an earlier cite, but why bother?
October 30, 2004, 11:00
Caterwauller
ummmmmmmm - maybe because we're all here (to a certain extent) to have fun?


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
October 30, 2004, 11:41
Kalleh
As I posted in Community, I think we all need to take a deep breath. I absolutely think this was an excellent thread with much good knowledge. In fact, someone who posts on another word board that is much larger than this told me this was one of the best discussions on words he has seen. Yet, I also think that we are here, as you say CW, to have fun too.

Right now, though, I sense that people are getting a little frayed and feelings are getting hurt. So...can we please move on? As always, concerns about the board, at least at first, are much better brought up privately.
October 30, 2004, 14:31
jerry thomas
Moving right along, the next word up (alphabetically) is the G-word.

Any thoughts on the G-word?
October 30, 2004, 15:39
BobHale
quote:
Originally posted by jerry thomas:
Moving right along, the next word up (alphabetically) is the G-word.

Any thoughts on the G-word?


Indeed.
You need to take more tonic with it. Smile


"No man but a blockhead ever wrote except for money." Samuel Johnson.

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October 30, 2004, 17:59
jo
But I thought Geritol WAS a tonic!
October 30, 2004, 18:46
Kalleh
I've found an earlier cite

Shu, I'd love to hear it.
November 01, 2004, 03:00
Caterwauller
quote:
Originally posted by Kalleh:
I've found an earlier cite

Shu, I'd love to hear it.


I'm interested, too!


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
November 08, 2004, 19:27
shufitz
OK. I keep finding more bits and pieces, so I'll add over the next couple of days, instead of in one massive post.

Above, I'd listed five uses of swive in the Canturbury Tales. There are two more that I'd missed, each of them in the Reeve's Tale.
November 09, 2004, 04:47
Caterwauller
Hmmm - no wonder we only studied parts of the Canturbury tales in school . . .


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
November 09, 2004, 07:35
jheem
no wonder we only studied parts of the Canturbury tales in school

Yes, indeed. I remember asking one of my high school English teachers if he had a copy of Beowulf in Old English that I could borrow. He was sorry but he didn't. He did loan me his copy of Chaucer (in Middle English) and pointed me at the Reeve's Tale and the Miller's Tale. The next day we discussed the literary versus the naughty bits. Years later in college I took a Chaucer class from an emeritus professor. We each got a tale to study (I got the Knight's Tale). We'd read out loud in class from the selected tale for a while, then dicuss it. What a fun class that was. The professor, one of the first PhDs in folklore, told us the first day of class: "Look, I don't get paid for teaching this class. I do it because I enjoy Chaucer. If you're not going to put any effort into this, drop it." It was so refreshing. Later that summer he sent each of us a post card from a different pub along the way between London and Canturbury.
November 09, 2004, 16:09
Caterwauller
I was fortunate enough to have several professors with that kind of dedication and love of their subjects! I had one class in undergrad that met at a local (well, close to local, for this area) bar & grill every third class or so. For a "dry" school, this was quite rebellious! WooHOO! The funniest thing is that hardly any of us drank - we just spent our time eating deep fried foods and talking about international manners.


*******
"Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions.
~Dalai Lama
November 09, 2004, 18:10
shufitz
Continuing: OED's first cite for the f-word is dated 1503. However, an undated manuscript believed to be from a bit earlier (1450-1500) contains both that word and swive.

They are written in code, but the code is easy to crack. The scribe just replaced each letter with the immediately-following letter of the alphabet; you decode it by reversing the procedure. Here is the text, in case those who know Latin spot something I miss, with the coded parts in red. (The old letters thorn and yogh are not available in Wordcraft's font, so I've used Þ and ž)[Side note: if you want to decode this, remember that at that time, i and j were thought of as the same letter, just written in two different styles. So in their alphabet, each of those letters is preceded by h and followed by k. Similarly u and v were two forms of the same letter, with the additional complication there was no w (it was written uu). Hence in their alphabet, the letters u or v are preceded by t and followed by x.]

The phrases thus decode to state that the friars fuccant wivvis of Heli ("f*ck the wives of Heli") and swivit mennis wivis.It's been argued that this code is so very easy to spot as being a code, and so very easy to decipher, that it couldn't have been intended to hide the words. It was more like making an in-joke, sort of like writing "f__k", knowing full well that everyone will know what you mean.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: shufitz,
November 13, 2004, 22:57
wordnerd
Modern folk song heard on the radio. The woman who sings is presumably a folk-singer from the 60's or 70's, now matured to become a mother befuddled by her children. Her plaint, sung in a high thin voice, has this chorus.How true.