04/09/2015 04:13 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Pornosophy: Is F*cking Losing Its Meaning?


The word fuck is slowly losing it's meaning. The Oxford dictionary defines it as a verb, to "have sexual intercourse with." Of course it can be used as a noun such as in the sentence, "it was a great fuck," or a gerund, say in "he got a good fucking," which means he got the short end of the stick. Even in this last, "fuck" retains its original meaning though the idea of sexual intercourse is tinged with the notion that the receiver of the sex act is some kind of loser.

But what about, "what the fuck?" or I'm so tired of this "fucken" vacuum cleaner I feel like throwing it out the window." Taken literally "what the fuck" means "what the sexual intercourse." A person who's new to the English language and is just getting into slang and the vernacular is going to be taken aback since it makes no sense at all. Neither of course does fucken, possibly deriving from the Middle Dutch "fokken," which according to means "to thrust." The Free Dictionary defines the adjective fucking as meaning "damned" or "confounded."

One thing is certain. In all these perversions of meaning fuck is used as an expletive. Something pleasurable and good is taken to be something bad, which probably derives from the idea that one man or woman's pleasure is another's pain. Ambivalence always seems to accompany the notion of fucking. It goes with the territory. There's always this ambivalence about fucking. People who took out subprime mortgages got fucked, but those who gave them experienced a fucking great windfall, with fucking in this case being a lone wolf as far as meaning is concerned to the extent that its used positively in a financial context.

And then there's the case of Fucking, the village in Austria which is part of the municipality of Tarsdorf, population 104. Its four road signs are apparently a popular photo op for British tourists, though it's not a destination for sex tourists and there have been no reports that the name of the town is any reflection of the activities that go on it it.

photo: Benjamin Dauth

{This was originally posted to The Screaming Pope, Francis Levy's blog of rants and reactions to contemporary politics, art and culture}