- fry (n.)
- "young fish," late 13c., from Anglo-French frei, from Old French frai "spawn," from froier "to rub, spawn (by rubbing abdomen on sand)." First applied to human offspring 14c. in Scottish, though OED and some other sources trace this usage to Old Norse frjo, fræ "seed, offspring."
- fryer (n.)
- also frier, 1851 of fish for frying, 1923 of chickens; from fry (v.).
- fubar (adj.)
- by 1944, acronym from fucked up beyond all recognition. Said to be military slang originally.
- fuchsia (n.)
- red color, 1923, from the ornamental shrub, which was named 1753 from the Latinized name of German botanist Leonhard Fuchs (1501-1566). Not related to Latin fucus "seaweed, sea wrack, tangle," which also gave its name to a red color prepared from it. Latin fucus is from or related to Greek phykos "seaweed," also "red paint, rouge."
- fuck (v.)
- until recently a difficult word to trace, in part because it was taboo to the editors of the original OED when the "F" volume was compiled, 1893-97. Written form only attested from early 16c. OED 2nd edition cites 1503, in the form fukkit; earliest appearance of current spelling is 1535 -- "Bischops ... may fuck thair fill and be vnmaryit" [Sir David Lyndesay, "Ane Satyre of the Thrie Estaits"], but presumably it is a much more ancient word than that, simply one that wasn't written in the kind of texts that have survived from Old English and Middle English. Buck cites proper name John le Fucker from 1278, but the surname could have other explanations. The word apparently is hinted at in a scurrilous 15c. poem, titled "Flen flyys," written in bastard Latin and Middle English. The relevant line reads:
Non sunt in celi "They [the monks] are not in heaven because they fuck the wives of [the town of] Ely." Fuccant is pseudo-Latin, and in the original it is written in cipher. The earliest examples of the word otherwise are from Scottish, which suggests a Scandinavian origin, perhaps from a word akin to Norwegian dialectal fukka "copulate," or Swedish dialectal focka "copulate, strike, push," and fock "penis." Another theory traces it to Middle English fyke, fike "move restlessly, fidget," which also meant "dally, flirt," and probably is from a general North Sea Germanic word; compare Middle Dutch fokken, German ficken "fuck," earlier "make quick movements to and fro, flick," still earlier "itch, scratch;" the vulgar sense attested from 16c. This would parallel in sense the usual Middle English slang term for "have sexual intercourse," swive, from Old English swifan "to move lightly over, sweep" (see swivel). But OED remarks these "cannot be shown to be related" to the English word. Chronology and phonology rule out Shipley's attempt to derive it from Middle English firk "to press hard, beat."
quia fuccant uuiuys of heli
Germanic words of similar form (f + vowel + consonant) and meaning 'copulate' are numerous. One of them is G. ficken. They often have additional senses, especially 'cheat,' but their basic meaning is 'move back and forth.' ... Most probably, fuck is a borrowing from Low German and has no cognates outside Germanic. [Liberman]
French foutre and Italian fottere look like the English word but are unrelated, derived rather from Latin futuere, which is perhaps from PIE root *bhau(t)- "knock, strike off," extended via a figurative use "from the sexual application of violent action" [Shipley; compare the sexual slang use of bang, etc.]. Popular and Internet derivations from acronyms (and the "pluck yew" fable) are merely ingenious trifling. The Old English word was hæman, from ham "dwelling, home," with a sense of "take home, co-habit." Fuck was outlawed in print in England (by the Obscene Publications Act, 1857) and the U.S. (by the Comstock Act, 1873). As a noun, it dates from 1670s. The word may have been shunned in print, but it continued in conversation, especially among soldiers during World War I.
It became so common that an effective way for the soldier to express this emotion was to omit this word. Thus if a sergeant said, 'Get your ----ing rifles!' it was understood as a matter of routine. But if he said 'Get your rifles!' there was an immediate implication of urgency and danger. [John Brophy, "Songs and Slang of the British Soldier: 1914-1918," pub. 1930]The legal barriers broke down in the 20th century, with the "Ulysses" decision (U.S., 1933) and "Lady Chatterley's Lover" (U.S., 1959; U.K., 1960). Johnson excluded the word, and fuck wasn't in a single English language dictionary from 1795 to 1965. "The Penguin Dictionary" broke the taboo in the latter year. Houghton Mifflin followed, in 1969, with "The American Heritage Dictionary," but it also published a "Clean Green" edition without the word, to assure itself access to the lucrative public high school market.
The abbreviation F (or eff) probably began as euphemistic, but by 1943 it was being used as a cuss word, too. In 1948, the publishers of "The Naked and the Dead" persuaded Norman Mailer to use the euphemism fug instead. When Mailer later was introduced to Dorothy Parker, she greeted him with, "So you're the man who can't spell 'fuck' " [The quip sometimes is attributed to Tallulah Bankhead]. Hemingway used muck in "For whom the Bell Tolls" (1940). The major breakthrough in publication was James Jones' "From Here to Eternity" (1950), with 50 fucks (down from 258 in the original manuscript). Egyptian legal agreements from the 23rd Dynasty (749-21 B.C.E.) frequently include the phrase, "If you do not obey this decree, may a donkey copulate with you!" [Reinhold Aman, "Maledicta," Summer 1977]. Fuck-all "nothing" first recorded 1960.
Verbal phrase fuck up "to ruin, spoil, destroy" first attested c.1916. A widespread group of Slavic words (such as Polish pierdolić) can mean both "fornicate" and "make a mistake." Fuck off attested from 1929; as a command to depart, by 1944. Flying fuck originally meant "have sex on horseback" and is first attested c.1800 in broadside ballad "New Feats of Horsemanship." For the unkillable urban legend that this word is an acronym of some sort (a fiction traceable on the Internet to 1995 but probably predating that) see here, and also here. Related: Fucked; fucking. Agent noun fucker attested from 1590s in literal sense; by 1893 as a term of abuse (or admiration).
DUCK F-CK-R. The man who has the care of the poultry on board a ſhip of war. ["Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue," 1796]
- fud (n.)
- "backside, buttocks," 1785, a Scottish and Northern dialect word of unknown origin, perhaps from Scandinavian.
- fuddle (v.)
- 1580s, originally "to get drunk," later "to confuse as though with drink" (c.1600), of uncertain origin, perhaps from Low German fuddeln "work in a slovenly manner (as if drunk)," from fuddle "worthless cloth." The more common derivative befuddle appeared 1887. Related: Fuddled; fuddling.
- fuddy-duddy (n.)
- "old-fashioned person," 1871, American English, of uncertain origin.
- fudge (v.)
- "put together clumsily or dishonestly," 1610s, perhaps an alteration of fadge "make suit, fit" (1570s), of unknown origin. As an interjection meaning "lies, nonsense" from 1766; the noun meaning "nonsense" is 1791. It could be a natural extension from the verb. But Farmer suggests provincial French fuche, feuche, "an exclamation of contempt from Low German futsch = begone."
The traditional English story traces fudge in this sense to a sailor's retort to anything considered lies or nonsense, from Captain Fudge, "who always brought home his owners a good cargo of lies" [Isaac Disraeli, 1791, citing a pamphlet from 1700]. It seems there really was a late 17c. Captain Fudge, called "Lying Fudge," and perhaps his name reinforced this form of fadge in the sense of "contrive without the necessary materials." The surname is from Fuche, a pet form of the masc. proper name Fulcher, from Germanic and meaning literally "people-army."
- fudge (n.)
- type of confection, 1895, American English, apparently a word first used among students at women's colleges; perhaps a special use of fudge (v.).
'He lies,' answered Lord Etherington, 'so far as he pretends I know of such papers. I consider the whole story as froth -- foam, fudge, or whatever is most unsubstantial. ...' [Scott, "St. Ronan's Well," 1823]
- fuel (n.)
- early 14c., from Old French foaile "bundle of firewood," from Vulgar Latin legal term *focalia "right to demand material for making fire," neuter plural of Latin focalis "pertaining to a hearth," from focus "hearth" (see focus (n.)). Figurative use from 1570s.
- fuel (v.)
- 1590s, from fuel (n.). Related: Fueled; fueling.
- fug (n.)
- "thick, close, stuffy atmosphere," 1888.
- fugacious (adj.)
- "fleeing, likely to flee," 1630s, from Latin fugaci-, stem of fugax "apt to flee, timid," figuratively "transitory, fleeting," from fugere "to flee" (see fugitive) + -ous. Related: Fugaciously; fugaciousness.
- fugal (adj.)
- 1854, from fugue + -al (1).
- late 14c. (adjective and noun), from Old French fugitif, from Latin fugitivus "fleeing" (but commonly used as a noun meaning "runaway, fugitive slave, deserter"), from past participle stem of fugere "run away, flee," from PIE root *bheug- (1) "to flee" (cognates: Greek pheugein "to flee," Lithuanian bugstu "be frightened"). Replaced Old English flyma.
- fugly (adj.)
- by 1995, a contraction of fucking ugly.
- fugue (n.)
- 1590s, fuge, from Italian fuga "ardor," literally "flight," from Latin fuga "act of fleeing," from fugere "to flee" (see fugitive). Current spelling (1660s) is from the French version of the Italian word.
A Fugue is a composition founded upon one subject, announced at first in one part alone, and subsequently imitated by all the other parts in turn, according to certain general principles to be hereafter explained. The name is derived from the Latin word fuga, a flight, from the idea that one part starts on its course alone, and that those which enter later are pursuing it. ["Fugue," Ebenezer Prout, 1891]
- Fuhrer (n.)
- 1934, from Führer und Reichskanzler, title assumed by Hitler in 1934 as head of the German state, from German Führer "leader," from führen "to lead," from Middle High German vüeren "to lead, drive," from Old High German fuoren "to set in motion, lead," causative of Old High German faran "to go, travel," which is cognate with Old English faran (see fare (v.)). Hitler's title was modeled on Mussolini's Duce.
- typically a reference to U.S. Sen. J. William Fulbright (1905-1995) of Arkansas, especially to the Fulbright Act of 1946, which authorized proceeds from sales of U.S. war surplus materials to be used to fund higher education overseas.
- fulcrum (n.)
- 1670s, "a prop, a support" (on which a lever turns), from Latin fulcrum "bedpost," from fulcire "to prop up, support" (see balk).
- fulfil (v.)
- see fulfill. Related: fulfilment.
- fulfill (v.)
- Old English fullfyllan "fill up, make full," from full + fyllan (see fill, which is ultimately from the root of full). Used early of prophecy and perhaps a translation of Latin implere, adimplere. Related: Fulfilled; fulfilling.
- fulfillment (n.)
- 1775, from fulfill + -ment.
- fulgent (adj.)
- early 15c., from Latin fulgentem (nominative fulgens) "shining, bright," present participle of fulgere "to shine" (see fulminate).
- full (adj.)
- Old English full "completely, full, perfect, entire, utter," from Proto-Germanic *fullaz (cognates: Old Saxon full, Old Frisian ful, Old Norse fullr, Old High German fol, German voll, Gothic fulls), from PIE *pele- (1) "to fill" (see poly-).
Adverbial sense was common in Middle English (full well, full many, etc.). Related: Fuller; fullest. Full moon was Old English fulles monan; first record of full-blood in relation to racial purity is from 1812. Full house is 1710 in the theatrical sense, 1887 in the poker sense.
- full (v.)
- "to tread or beat cloth to cleanse or thicken it," late 14c., from Old French fouler, from Latin fullo (see foil (v.)); Old English had the agent-noun fullere, probably directly from Latin fullo.
- full time
- also fulltime, full-time, 1898; full-timer is attested from 1868; see full (adj.) + time (n.).
- full-blown (adj.)
- 1640s, of flowers, from full (adj.) + past participle of blow (v.2) "to bloom." Figuratively "complete, fully developed" from 1650s. Blown "that has blossomed" is from Old English geblowenne. Full-blown also was used 17c.-18c. of cheeks, sails, bladders and in this case is from blow (v.1) and the figurative sense might also partake of these.
- full-fledged (adj.)
- 1883 in figurative sense; see full (adj.) + fledge.
- fuller (n.)
- "one who fulls cloth," Old English fullere, from Latin fullo "fuller" (see foil (v.)). The substance called fuller's earth (silicate of alumina) is first recorded 1520s, so called because it was used in cleansing cloth.
- fullness (n.)
- early 14c., from full (adj.) + -ness. Apparently not a survival of Old English fulnes.
- fully (adv.)
- Old English fullice "entirely, perfectly, completely;" see full (adj.) + -ly (2).
- fulminant (adj.)
- c.1600, from French fulminant or directly from Latin fulminantem (nominative fulminans), present participle of fulminare (see fulminate). As a noun from 1808.
- fulminate (v.)
- early 15c., "publish a 'thundering' denunciation," from Latin fulminatus, past participle of fulminare "hurl lightning, lighten," from fulmen (genitive fulminis) "lightning flash," related to fulgere "to shine, flash," from PIE *bhleg- "to shine, flash," from root *bhel- (1) "to shine, flash, burn" (see bleach (v.)). Metaphoric sense (the original sense in English) is via its use in reference to a formal ecclesiastical censure. Related: Fulminated; fulminating.
- fulmination (n.)
- c.1500, from Middle French fulmination, from Latin fulminationem (nominative fulminatio) "discharge of lightning," noun of action from past participle stem of fulminare (see fulminate).
- fulsome (adj.)
- Middle English compound of ful "full" (see full (adj.)) + -som (see -some (1)). Sense evolved from "abundant, full" (mid-13c.) to "plump, well-fed" (mid-14c.) to "overgrown, overfed" (1640s) and thus, of language, "offensive to taste or good manners" (1660s). Since the 1960s, however, it commonly has been used in its original, favorable sense, especially in fulsome praise. Related: Fulsomely; fulsomeness.
- fumble (v.)
- mid-15c., "handle clumsily," possibly from Old Norse falma "to fumble, grope." Similar words in Scandinavian and North Sea Germanic suggest onomatopoeia from a sound felt to indicate clumsiness (compare bumble, stumble, and obsolete English famble, fimble of roughly the same meaning). Related: Fumbled; fumbling.
- fumble (n.)
- 1640s, from fumble (v.).
- fume (n.)
- late 14c., from Old French fum "smoke, steam, vapor, breath," from Latin fumus "smoke, steam, fume" (source of Italian fumo, Spanish humo), from PIE *dheu- (1) "dust, vapor, smoke; to rise in a cloud, to fly about (like dust)" (cognates: Sanskrit dhumah, Old Church Slavonic dymu, Lithuanian dumai, Old Prussian dumis "smoke," Middle Irish dumacha "fog," Greek thymos "spirit, mind, soul").
- fume (v.)
- c.1400, "to fumigate," from Old French fumer, from Latin fumare "to smoke, steam," from fumus "smoke, steam, fume" (see fume (n.)). Figurative sense of "show anger" is first recorded 1520s. Related: Fumed; fumes; fuming.
- fumigate (v.)
- 1520s, back-formation from fumigation. Related: Fumigated; fumigating.
- fumigation (n.)
- late 14c., "make aromatic smoke as part of a ceremony," from Old French fumigation, from Latin fumigationem (nominative fumigatio) "a smoking," noun of action from past participle stem of fumigare "to smoke," from fumus "smoke, fume" (see fume) + root of agere "to drive" (see act (n.)). Sense of "exposure (of someone or something) to aromatic fumes" is c.1400, originally as a medicinal or therapeutic treatment.
- fun (n.)
- "diversion, amusement," 1727, earlier "a cheat, trick" (c.1700), from verb fun (1680s) "to cheat, hoax," of uncertain origin, probably a variant of Middle English fonnen "befool" (c.1400; see fond).
Stigmatized by Johnson as "a low cant word." Older sense is preserved in phrase to make fun of (1737) and funny money "counterfeit bills" (1938, though this may be more for the sake of the rhyme). See also funny.
- funambulist (n.)
- "rope-walker," 1793, coined from Latin funis "rope" + ambulare "to walk" (see amble (v.)).
- function (n.)
- 1530s, "proper work or purpose," from Middle French fonction (16c.) and directly from Latin functionem (nominative functio) "performance, execution," noun of action from functus, past participle of fungi "perform, execute, discharge," from PIE root *bheug- (2) "to use, enjoy" (see brook (v.)). Use in mathematics probably begun by Leibnitz (1692).
- function (v.)
- 1856, from function (n.). Related: Functioned; functioning.
- functional (adj.)
- 1630s; as a term in architecture, "utilitarian," 1928; see function (n.) + -al (1). Related: Functionally; functionality.
- functionalism (n.)
- 1914 as a term in social sciences; 1930 in architecture; from functional + -ism. Related: functionalist.
- functionary (n.)
- "one who has a certain function," 1791, from or patterned on French fonctionnaire, a word of the Revolution; from Old French function (see function).