The word fuck plays the syntactic field with abandon; it can easily function as a verb, noun, pronoun, adjective, adverb, or interjection (as a preposition or conjunction seems iffy, but I'd love to hear the case for it). And its history, with roots dating back to the 15th century, has been largely documented by one clever human: Jesse Sheidlower, the editor at large of the Oxford English Dictionary. This month brings the release of the third edition of his definitive historical dictionary of fuck, The F-Word, including its compounds, phrasal uses, euphemisms, and examples throughout history (by figures like David Mamet, Martin Scorsese, Richard Price, Norman Mailer, Liz Phair, and Britney Spears).
New words and expressions added since 1999's edition include
1. an artistic person, especially one who is elitist or pretentious.
2. something (especially a piece or style of music) that is pretentiously artistic. Often as adjective.
fug (a written euphemism for fuck in various senses and parts of speech; see fuck for examples). [Associated chiefly with Norman Mailer, who was required by his publishers to use the euphemism in The Naked and the Dead (1948).]Justine Elias of the Boston Phoenix notes other additions:
Among recent coinages, "fucktard" needs no explanation. The saucy Wellesley College term "fuck truck" gets a ride. Sheidlower says he's "keen to antedate it, I know it's possible." As a 20-year-old grad student, he discovered that Lord Byron, in a private letter, used "tool" as a verb meaning, "well, you know, to have sex." And Treasure Island author Robert Louis Stevenson, writing to a friend, described an older lady, admiringly, as a "jolly fuckstress." "The masculine, 'fuckster,' is much older—there are three 17th-century examples."Jonathan Green, editor of Chambers Slang Dictionary, calls it "a gem in its lexicographical expertise and its scholarly explication."
The book offers uses of fuck from the major anglophone countries and backs up the lexicography (270 pages of headwords, every one underpinned by citations drawn from the earliest discovered use onwards) with a weighty introduction that provides a masterly analysis of every aspect of the word. The author deals with the word’s etymology (and the variety of palpably inept folk etymologies that have accompanied it), its incorporation into the list of taboo terms, its appearance in every form of media and (it seems) in every century.I haven't seen the book yet, but it will soon be a welcome addition to The Stranger's reference manuals.
If your grammar-hatin' eyes haven't rolled out of your head yet, click over here for a thrilling ride (with diagrams!) through the syntax of the fuck in the expression Fucking shut the fuck up.