I haven’t done an education piece in a long, long time. It has been like 2 years incredibly, but it is not that my mind is less curious it is just that I kind of forgot about it. Now I am going to bring it back.
This sudden realization comes up because of a discussion about swear words I had with my coworkers. No we weren’t simply sitting around hurling expletives at one another we are much more professional than that. We were learning how to say insults in Polish. But that turned into where did these words come from in the first place?
Depending on the culture insults/course language is based on different aspects. For example French insults are religious based, Far East Asia’s are based on family honor, and here in North America they are about sexuality.
I WARN you from this point on this gets VERY explicit.
So I decided to looking to the etymology of course language and insults people commonly use to debase, degrade, or hilariously kid others.
The origin of this word is not completely clear but it first appear in English texts in the 1400s meaning “a dirty, slovenly, or untidy woman,”. It is believed to derive from a German word schlutt which means “slovenly woman”. It wasn’t originally used as an insult synonymous with bitch or describing a loose woman. It was sometimes used to loving describe messy children.
As most people know the original meaning for the word is “female dog or doggess” derived from the Old English bicce which may have come from the Old Norse word bikkjuna. As applied to a person it takes on a whole different conetation. To a woman spiteful, bad tempered, mean and more insulting to a man: removal of manliness and, as the dictionary says, the man is “sexually contemptuous”
The original meaning for the word is “beast of burden” or “donkey” which are commonly clumsy/or stupid. When applied to a person it simply means the same.
This comes from Old English scitte “purging” and was later used in reference to excrement. When insulting someone they are believed to be waste, worthless, something that needs to be eliminated.
Was originally a term of endearment for girls, women and also effeminate men. That endearment evolved to include animals, the cat to be specific. The terms specificity degraded to simply referring to something that is “soft, warm, furry”. The slang use of the word didn’t come into play until the 1800 where it began being used in reference to “female pudenda” in a vulgar way.
This is another word where the origins are not known but there are several theories. The most famous one is that it is actually an acronym.
F.U.C.K. – Fornication Under Consent of the King – the consent of the king was necessary to copulate in finalizing a marriage.
F.U.C.K – For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge – an offense of copulation out of wedlock, or how Scotland Yard marked rape cases.
But apparently both of those are not true. Fuck is apparently a very old word dating back to the 1500. It most likely had a very normal integration into the English language aka it was stolen from another language. There are 3 possibilities
Dutch – fokken meaning “to thrust, copulate with”
Norwegian – fukka meaning “to copulate”
Swedish – focka “to strike, push, copulate” or fock “penis”
I also find mention of the German word fricken with no attached explainations. Or you can go by this video:
It may be called “the history of” but it is more about usage.
And finally the big “C” word. The word that still makes people gasp or cringe. The polite may dare to say “See you next Tuesday” instead but it will still make them blush. It comes from the middle English word cunte “female genitalia” which could be linked to the Latin word cuneus “wedge”. After doing a bit of reading I am still unsure as to when/how this word became as offensive as it is but it has been considered to be vulgar since the 1700s. But like with all the other words it is really just an evolution of usage.
There you have it, what I found out about swearing. No i didn’t delve into the immense usage-scape of all the words or the combinations of them I would have to write a pretty long book to cover all of that. But etymology is always interesting weather it be about cuss words or not.