Censored

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Why do people use the word “fuck” so much?

At one time, its usage was somewhat limited, as in cases where a person was particularly upset about something. Moreover, as a general rule, it was employed much more often by the male gender. Nowadays, it’s uttered by both male and female and the tone of the conversation makes no difference.

Considering the core meaning of the word, why would a reference to “sexual intercourse” be appropriate in everyday usage? Further, since the act itself is generally considered enjoyable, why has the word so frequently become an expletive?

I recently read the following in a blog post: “I say “fuck” a lot when I get angry. I also say “fuck” a lot when I’m not angry.”

And I cannot help but ask … Why? What value has the word incurred over time that so many feel its usage is almost required in everyday conversations?

Inquiring minds want to know.

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108 thoughts on “Censored

  1. I wonder too. It used to be a word that men thought women didn’t even know. I see it as a lack of vocabulary. It does have (at east it used to) shock value, but now it seems to be the go to word for most everything. There are better and more powerful words, but people are lazy and want, it seems, to sound “up to date”. GROG

    Liked by 6 people

    • Thank you, Grog: my thought, exactly. There is a wide array of words, but I doubt that many people wish to think long enough to find them these days, as we are now trained to speak faster than the average person can think, apparently.
      I agree with you that it comes back to a need for education, in both thought for what will come out of our mouths, and thought for how the other person may be feeling, no?
      Stay safe,
      -Shira

      Liked by 5 people

  2. For emphasis it has lost its power. For the non-diffident, it wields attention where none is warranted. The word can help pseudo-intellectuals sound bigger in their opinions which are poorly persuasive. I don’t fucking know!

    Liked by 8 people

  3. Thank you, Nan: I suspect that it was used initially for shock value, and now it just seems that some people think it sounds cool.

    Lack of education for a wider ranging vocabulary, also, perhaps?
    There are always better words available to express the precise sentiments that one has in mind, if one looks carefully.

    Oh, wait, that involves critical thinking, right?

    Liked by 3 people

  4. Nan, I tend to curse under my breath, but truly not a whole lot. And, I try not to do so in print. It adds little value and does not serve well as an adjective. So, its use does little for me when I read someone who uses it. Now, I will use BS with just the letters, as it actually defines well political rhetoric. Keith

    Liked by 3 people

    • Did that definition/question effortlessly flow from your brain to your fingers? 😏

      For the benefit of readers: coprolalia, according to Wikipedia, is involuntary swearing or the involuntary utterance of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks.

      The keyword here, of course, is “involuntary.” I tend to think most usage nowadays is VERY intentional.

      Liked by 3 people

      • It may be that overusage will take the sting out of it, much the way that when I was a kid “damn” and “hell” got you sent to the principal’s office. Geroge Carlin has some interesting things to say about words like this,
        and while I do agree some people use it for shock value, many just use it as part of their speech patterns.

        One of the brightest men I ever knew online used profanity as part of his language, and truly, after awhile you stopped noticing.

        I may not use it (well trained little cat’lic girl that I am) but it doesn’t send me reeling for the fainting couch, either.

        My motherin-law took swearing to an interesting level, too: she would say ‘shit’ and ‘damn” but she would whisper “h-e-l” very carefully. She always reminded me of Radar O’Reilly and his ‘H-E-double hockeysticks”

        Liked by 3 people

        • Hell and damn and similar “cuss-words” were essentially associated with religion … and in years past, indeed caused some to “clutch their pearls.”

          But considering its core meaning … why “fuck”???

          I’m so confused …

          Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, but why access that bit neurology? Why not have the involuntary aspect grab hold and shout out numbers, for example? Why swear words? Why do we use any at all? In other words, I’m suggesting swearing has a biological basis to be situated this way in the linguistic center of our neurology. Similar to the connection distance in neurology that produces synesthesia, does our wiring make some of us more or less likely to swear or to greater or lesser degrees? My newfie friend used the term ‘fuck’ every third word and told me it felt like there was always a growing pressure released ONLY by swearing. ‘Fuck’ was a term that slowed this build up of pressure like a pressure release valve.

        Liked by 2 people

        • On the show “In the Actor’s Studio” the late James Lipton always asked the actors at the nod for their favorite curse word. Almost everyone to a man (and ladies) without exception gave some formulation of ‘fuck.’ fuck you, go fuck your self, etc. It seems that people feel they let off a certain amount of steam, pressure, anger, whatever.

          Relatively popular T shirt in New Orleans, black with large white lettering: “Fuck you, ya fucking fuck, ya!”

          No kidding.

          Liked by 1 person

        • This isn’t entirely new, [counts on fingers, pulls off shoes, keeps counting] nearly forty years ago a friend of my wife had a boyfriend we nicknamed ‘Fucking Frank’, mainly because (almost literally) every other word out of his mouth was some variation.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. I just have to tell this story, Nan.
    My father-in-law (born in 1916) was a farm boy here in Nova Scotia. In those days, one did not go far. His parents were strict Baptists and he was a real gentleman. He told his children that he had never heard that word until he went overseas. He claimed that his training in England introduced him to it and that it was used quite frequently there – he used to say, “Those Englishmen made that word up!” 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  6. I’m saving up my swear words for they are really appropriate. I’ve been saving them for 70 years, so there’s likely to be a very, very long string of them when that occasion arises.

    Liked by 5 people

  7. Actually, I immediately thought of a Tourette’s syndrome friend I had from Newfoundland whose vocabulary of swear words in remarkable combinations was truly impressive, astounding even, and often left me in stitches.

    Early in my spouse’s career was time spent on a ward for the brain injured and it was well known that swear words are the most often used and the last vocabulary many people have when all other vocabulary cannot be accessed, so I know there’s a strong link between swearing (I will use swearing with sudden injury, sudden fear, shock, surprise, and so on, which lends weight to the ‘involuntary’ aspect of copralalia) and a more basic or elemental part of our language center. I also know from a brother-in-law who is retired as an airline instructor pilot that almost all fatal crashes where voice recording is captured ends with swearing.

    So why do we swear? Once again, I think it’s all quite fascinating in that we tend to use swearing for emphasis and/or attention, that overuse kills effectiveness, and that this is a very human thing to do. I have no clue why, just that it has some interesting patterns that have to be related to our neurology. Also, most swearing has to do with either body functions or religion.

    Liked by 4 people

    • Although the word “fuck” is technically considered a “swear word,” to me it stands alone as being particularly offensive — and undeniably over-used. It is this “over-use” that baffles me.

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      • I wonder if that’s because unlike so many other swear words, the term is what I learned as a ‘conversion’ term, meaning it can be used as a noun, verb, object, or adjective. Add some inflection, dynamics, and facial expression and we have almost a complete language! Very handy.

        Liked by 1 person

        • I watched the start of a movie awhile back and the opening scene was a guy trying to rob a convenience store. Every demand he made to the guy behind the counter was interlaced with the word “fuck.” No exaggeration. So yes, as you suggested, in this particular case it was most definitely used as a noun, verb, object, and adjective.

          Fortunately, after this “opening scene,” the rest of the movie was a bit more “refined.”

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      • For me, personally the worst word is c**t. I cringe every time I hear it. It is a favourite of Australian comedian Jim Jeffries and his dialogue is littered with its use.

        The only swear word I ever heard my parents utter was ”bugger”, usually said by my father and almost exclusively when he banged his head or injured any other part of the anatomy. He did a lot of handy-man jobs around the house and there was often a plaster or ointment on a cut or graze on his bald pate. I can imagine he said bugger a lot even when he was on his own and nobody was within earshot.

        Bugger has always seemed such a British swear word and yet considering it’s meaning one might consider the word ‘fuck’ the more preferable option?

        Liked by 1 person

        • Bugger – now there’s a word. My parents always used that word, as in (directed at us if/when we did something we weren’t supposed to, which was often) “You little buggers!”
          I also used to use it in the same context until a minister pointed out one time that it really wasn’t a very nice word to be using. Embarrassed, I asked him why not. He simply said, “Look it up in the dictionary”. I now say, “Begger” in place of it. 😉
          That’s the one thing about the ‘f’ word. . . its definition is universal. 🙂

          Liked by 2 people

    • Dear tildeb,

      I agree with you, and would like to add that how, why and when people swear also tend to have a great deal of (inter)dependence on and (inter)relationship with personality, culture, social climate and social etiquette.

      Like

  8. Personally, I rarely use “f***”.

    The way that people speak is affected by social practices. And social media seem quite effective in changing those practices — usually changing them for the worse.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. The over usage of the F-word does get annoying and quite “superfluous,” a word you’ve taught me Nan and I’m grateful. 😉 I liken the abuse of the F-word similar to people over using “Ya know” repeatedly every 5-10 seconds. If it gets so bad I’ll just loudly interrupt and say “NO! I DON’T KNOW! I CANNOT READ YOUR MIND!” So then if someone over used the F-word I guess I’d reply “NO! I don’t wanna f*ck right now! Not you and not anyone!

    But most of the time this over use doesn’t bother me. 😁

    Liked by 2 people

  10. It has become normalized … a way to express surprise, frustration, or almost any other emotion. I used to be highly offended by it … say, 20-30 years ago, but now I find myself using it more often than I’d like. It just … pops out!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I love the word Fuck. It’s a great fucking word. Like George Carlin said, it’s a noun, it’s a verb, it’s an adverb, it’s an adjective, it’s anything you fucking want it to be. You can stick it anyfuckingwhere. It’s just fucking great. The other swear words just don’t have this capacity.

    Liked by 4 people

      • Fuck can either be used to emphasize something, or simply as “smurf”, when one runs out of words. Then again, I think using “smurf” may have more strength and it may even draw more attention than just plain old simple fuck.

        Liked by 1 person

    • Aw, saq, you beat me to it. After reading all the comments before yours, I was all ready to tell them all to fuck off and just fucking go with the fucking flow.
      It’s fucking 2021, for fuck’s sake.
      This is not the way I write, but depending on the situation I can verbally fuck people up and fuck them around better than fucking George Carlin could ever fucking do!
      Why? I do it to normalize the word. It’s a fucking good expletive. But it is not a swear word in my books. It is a word that ends a lot of arguments. It is a word that starts a lot of arguments. And it is the most useful word in the English language. My favourite place to use it is in a crowded place of business when I or others are being ignored by whoever is working there. Walmart is a good example. They have associates all over, but none of them are talking to customers, they are talking to each other. Customers are standing around, waiting for help, or to have questions answered, but the associates cannot even see them. A well-voiced “Doesn’t anyone fucking work in this fucking place?” gets them moving faster than a jackrabbit, including any supervisors in earshot. Generally I say it while facing a well-stocked shelf of products so no one is sure exactly where the words came from. But really I don’t care if the associates know it was me, my goal is to have them helping somebody who wants or needs help.
      But my favourite place is in a bank or other dignified place of business, especially when a clerk or salesperson is spending all their time catering to a snob and letting the lesser-dressed customers sit and fume. “There are other customers here besides the fucking rich asshole, you know!” That scores two hits at the same time, one on the business, the other on the fucking asshole who is asking all kinds of questions but not buying a goddamn thing.” I instantly have a manager trying to shush me, but I do get their attention.
      But my best success was in a courtroom, where the judge was favouring a white, bible-swearing tie-wearing accuser over me, the long-hair jean-wearing accused, me. The judge was eating his story up after having cut me short with anything I tried to say. So, in the middle of yet snother lie I stood up and shouted, in a crowded courtroom, “you call this fucking fair justice?” It just came out, for once it wasn’t intentional. But the gavel slammed down and everyone perked up. “One more outburst like that I and I will charge you with comtempt! Apologies to this court right now!” Well, the dam had burst, so I continued is a normal boice

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry, hit the SEND button by mistake.
        …So I continued in a normal voice, “I’m sorry you think fuck is a contemptible word, your honour, but fuck is a part of my everyday English vocabulary, and being an atheist, there is no such thing as a swear word.” Didn’t his lily-white face turn red. “This is my courtroom, and if I say fuck is a swear word, it is a fucking swear word!” The gallery broke out in such instant laughter, it was only then he realized what it was he said. He banged his gavel again and screamed “Order in the courtroom!” But it was too late. The room was still buzzing. In the end he still found me guilty of causing a rear-end accident even though I was in the lead car, and ordered me to pay a $50 fine. I never paid it. And no one ever came looking for me to collect it.
        The moral of the story is, atheists cannot swear, unless they believe it is swearing. But the white Christian judge sure believed it was swearing, and it was him doing that swearing. Case closed.
        I love the fucking English language! (Oops, forgot to say I of course refused to swear on a bible in the courtroom, and affirmed that I would tell the truth, etc. The judge was stunned, like no one had ever affirmed anything in his courtroom before. He didn’t even try to hide his bias.)

        Liked by 3 people

          • I was entering an intersection on ice just as the light turned yellow. My choices were gunning it, and possibly losing control, maintaining my speed and going through the intersection supposedly safely but possibly interfering with cross traffic, or trying to pump the brakes and slowing down, stopping partway into the intersection. I chose option 2, maintaining control and advancing through .
            In the city I was in, there is an unwritten law that when a traffic light turns yellow, you step on the gas, and two cars speed through the intersection as the light turns red. The car behind me had no idea I was on ice, and did the normal thing, expecting me to plow on through at advanced speed. Because I did not tap my brakes to warn the guy behind me that I was not speeding up, the judge ruled I was not driving to normal traffic expectations. Remember, the judge was Christian, and the guy behind me swore on the Bible he was telling the truth. He said he noticed no ice on the road. How could he? He was accelerating. When he hit me I spun because I was on ice, but he denied that. Being that it was a rear end to my rear, I did not bother to collect witnesses. He brought a witness who said conditions were normal, and the accident was my fault because I did not speed up as I should have. Voila, I was guilty. The good Christian judge agreed the atheist was the liar, and therefore he fined me. If I had a lawyer things would have gone differently, I think. But when religion enters a court of law, one never knows. I was a longhaired freak, as I said. My fate was sealed as soon as I refused to swear on a Bible.
            But at least I embarrassed the hell out of the judge, unintentionally, and that was worth the dangerous driving points on my license.
            I could not afford to appeal the decision, so I just ate it.
            Today, knowing more about law than I did at the time, I would not only have appealed, I would have sued his ass.
            But so it goes…

            Liked by 1 person

            • But sometimes it depends on the liee. My fornicating father always believed my lies, because I made up good lies. But when I told the truth, I was lieing, and I got beat for it.

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            • I just hope that $50 fine is not accumulating overdue fees and they will start looking for you when it gets to $1000. I am aware that sort of stuff happens as I did not pay a traffic fine that more than doubled some months later.

              Liked by 1 person

            • That was some 40 or more years ago, and I no longer live in the same jurisdiction. The statute of limitations must be passed by now, but you make me think of other fines I never paid in other jurisdictions. Once I discovered that no one followed up on them, I just stopped caring. Laws mean virtually nothing to me, I live according to how I see my responsibilities, not how anyone else tells me I should be behaving. My aim is to hurt no living being, and that carries far more restrictions than any legal body could place on me. Paying fines is outside of my parameters.

              Like

            • You’d better not move to Nova Scotia, then. If you don’t pay fines – parking tickets, anything like that – you don’t get your car registration. 🙂

              Like

            • New Bruns wick was as close as I got. Actually left there, in a car with NB plates, on Sept. 10, 2001, on my way to Vancouver. You would not believe how many times I was stopped the next day, had my car ripped apart, and then was left to repack it. I finally had to ask a mountie to flag my licence as previously checked and found to be terrorist-free. All my worldly belongings were in that car, and each item was inspected thoroughly over and over, and left lying beside the road. Did I hate cops that day? Damn right I did!

              Like

          • A bunch of ways, usually involving some kind of reckless or negligent driving. Specifically, you can back into another vehicle, have something like a broken tail light, driving while impaired, or otherwise driving like an idiot that endangers others (like slamming on the brakes after passing someone). To get a fine like this as the lead vehicle in a rear end collision is a badge of driving like a true dickhead. This kind of successful charge can (not always) send one’s insurance rates soaring or even refused.

            Like

  12. The ‘f’ sound is an unvoiced fricative. Instead of using your vocal cords as you do with the ‘z’ sound in the word “zoo,” you use the mouth. You position your bottom lip behind your front teeth and push the word–with whatever force you feel you need! I think that’s important to the success of the word. You can hurl it out with incredible force, or you can be quite gentle with it.

    I had a friend who would often mouth the f word, voicing a soft “fuh…” It was very effective. And what can I say, I use it, often to myself, but even more often when gabbing with my rowdy friends over cans of beer or glasses of wine, especially when talking about Evangelicals or Republicans.

    I agree with others that it’s not a curse word like “damn.” To say to another person “Damn you” is definitely cursing. It means essentially that you pronounce some sort of doom on that person’s existence. To say “fuck you,” well, that’s not a curse at all. It’s hilarious when you stop and think about it. But Nan, I do understand your not liking the word. There have been plenty of times when I thought the use of the f word was not only distasteful but also just flat wrong.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Oh, something I’ve learned about movie ratings and the word. “Fuck” can be said in a PG13 movie, but only once and NOT in reference to sex. So, a phrase like “Fuck off!” is PG13 if used only once in a film, BUT, if one says, “Let’s go fuck,” even just once, the film gets an “R” rating! Bat-shit crazy logic, isn’t it, as the friggin’ word is in direct reference, or used to be, anyway, to sex. Ah, American values! Don’cha love ’em!

    Liked by 3 people

  14. It can be a liberating moment to finally use the word therapeutically, as you see for the first time the abuse you’ve put up with and you embrace the moment where you go and get the help you need and deal with your f’in trauma.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I seem to recall reading once that the word “fuck” has been traced back all the way to the proto-Germanic root language spoken almost 3,000 years ago from which English, German, Scandinavian, etc are descended — and that in proto-Germanic it actually meant “rape”. Perhaps the aggression and crudity the word still conveys are a continued effect of that original meaning.

    As to its current over-use, I agree with several of the explanations offered. Juvenile people like to shock others, and will naturally use the available word with the greatest shock value, especially if they have only limited vocabulary and imagination, as is often the case with such people. Swear words tend to suffer from a kind of “inflation” in which their shock value erodes rapidly with common use — as the word becomes more common, it is felt to be less shocking, which means more people use it more often, and so on. “Fuck” is already well on the way to becoming boring.

    Some languages don’t use sexual terms as swear words, or at least not much. Most German profanity has to do with feces or urination (Scheiß or Piß used as prefixes), not with sex. My impression is that the same is true of profanity in Japanese, not that they seem to use very much.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. WTF, Nan? Yet another of my favorite topics. You asked: “Why? What value has the word incurred over time that so many feel its usage is almost required in everyday conversations? Inquiring minds want to know.”

    I love this word, but it is just a word. A sound made with a strong F, an UH, and ends with a blast of K, like 🙂 luck, truck, duck, and muck. I use it whenever I feel like it just cuz I wanna. However, if I know nearby ears are attached to a potentially offended head, Usually, I will not say any of George Carlin’s 7, nor several others.

    But, while I am not responsible for the opinions or feelings of others regarding my dirty mouth, I do self-censor when I suspect or know that they do not want to hear it. I only use it here cuz you opened the door.

    In my writing I use fuck freely as it adds legitimacy to one of my favorite cuss words. I have been saying fuck for more than 60 years, before I knew what it meant or what fornication was, (and my list of profane prose goes on), I do not plan on stopping.

    And then then there is this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RAkSkMRwPYs

    The best fucking word EVAH!

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Hahaha! We have a somewhat similar expression in Finnish language: “Vittu!” It refers to female genitalia. In ancient times it used to have a very seriously taken meaning in reference to the magical power of women. The wife of a freeholder would stand astride the doorway of the cowhouse in springtime to bless the cows, when they were first let out after the winter, with her magic pouring out of her genitalia under her dress. The same power could make male tools left on the floor go bad, if a woman stepped over them. Today this is just folklore, not known by many. The church and all sorts of educational institutions have seen it important to get rid of such pagan thinking.

    For a while it was a curse word mainly used by extremely badly behaving men, and today we call it the punctuation mark of the teenagers – who have no idea of the significance it once held to the country life. Words like that lose their meaning and significance when overtly used.

    Why would anyone curse with a word that refers to genitalia, or sex? Are those not beautifull and good things in our otherwise often fairly challenging lives?

    Liked by 3 people

  18. The people I know use it instead of “um” or “uh.” I guess it’s the default word when nothing else comes to mind.

    You could throw people off and say For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge. Doesn’t have the same ring to it, though. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Interesting article. I guess I’m not too smart because I only know/use 3-4 “swear” words. Must have been that “puritan” training when I was a kid! 😄😅😂

      Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

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