I recently read a fun book concerning a subject that I’m sure would be extraordinarily popular in high school: the etymological roots of foul language. I’ve long wondered about what seemed to be a too-frequent-to-be-coincidental phenomenon; namely, the fact that many of our most vicious insults are sexual terms. (And I’m still amazed at the apparently unconscious knuckle-dragging attitudes behind ostensible “compliments” like noting an act of courage or integrity by a woman by referring to her having “balls”, as if by her actions, she’s become an honorary guy. Congratulations, toots!) Why the fluid interchangability of love and hate, sex and violence? Is it something peculiar about Americans, with our infamous neurotic attitudes about sex? Well, apparently not:
[Fuck’s] most likely etymological roots are in English’s Continental partners – the Latin futuere (or pungere or battuere), the French foutre, the German ficken. All these words follow the pattern of having two contextual meanings: the first, a physically violent one (to beat, bang, hit or strike); the second, to engage in sexual activity…Richard Dooling says that fuck is related to a widespread Germanic form (Middle Dutch fokken, Norwegian fukka, and Swiss focka), all of which have striking, thrusting, pushing-type meanings.