Origins of the 7 Dirty Words Anything
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Origins of the 7 Dirty Words

Some of these swear words, the words that George Carlin has told us they can't say on television (although I don't think that's entirely the case anymore), have been around for a very long time... their meanings unchanged even though their pronunciations and spellings may have altered. Call them cuss words, call them dirty words, call them curse words - bet you've always wondered how the name of your favorite obscenity came about? See if your favorite swearword's origin is old or new.

What are the seven dirty words? What are the origins of curse words? How do words become taboo? There are many words that are frowned upon in one culture but embraced in another, but these are some of the most universally reviled and censored words in the English language.
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  1. 1

    This is an old word. OLD. In fact, we aren't entirely certain we can trace it back definitively because it was so much more prevalent in common speech than in written form. It is assumed to originate from the germanic languages (the German "f****n", the Dutch "fokken", the Norwegian "f*kka" and the Swedish "fokka") but there are similar usages in the Latin/Greek languages. For example: the Latin "f*tere", the French "foutre", the Italian "fotre", and so on. The latin origination theory, however, would have to explain how the word reached Scandinavia via Roman contact and how the 't' sound became a 'k' sound.

    There are plenty of urban legends surrounding the history of this particular word, but most have been found to be false. For example, the word "f**k" did not come from "File Under Carnal Knowledge", "Fornication Under the Command of the King", False Use of Carnal Knowledge", and any other iterations involving acronymns.

    The first known occurrence of the word (at least the most accepted) is in code in a poem in a French/Latin mix which satirizes the Carmelite monks of Cambridge from around 1500. The line reads "They are not in heaven because they f**k wives of Ely". It was probably coded because it spoke poorly of clergy... not something that would usually get into print since so much of the written word of that day was written BY clergy.

  2. 2

    Hey, another word that probably sprang from the Gemanics! No one has come to an agreement on this word's origins, but it is most often thought to have come from the Proto-Germanic word "kunto" and which appears as "kunta" in Old Norse. The word in its present-day meaning can be found in a 1325 Middle English manuscript that states "Give your c**t wisely and make your demands after the wedding".

    Wise words.

  3. 3

    Probably an Old English word, it is very likely another one with its roots in the Germanic languages. That's where all the best words seem to come from. The Old English noun "scite" and the Middle Low German "schite"... both meaning dung, plus the word "scitte" meaning diarrhea. It first showed up in writing back in the 14th century, so this is another cuss word for the ages.

    This is another word with a ridiculous false etymology -- one that dates allll the way back to the days of the "internet". The word S**t does not come from the acronym for "Ship High in Transit"... which would refer (according to whatever bored kid first typed this one up) to the apparent need to stow manure above the water line when transporting it by ship.

  4. 4

    A pure American invention, this one. And brand new, in the general scope of things. It was first seen in print in 1933, with the meaning of it pretty obvious to all.

  5. 5

    This one is newer. The word 'cock' itself is older having originally referred to a male chicken or bird but became slang for penis around the 1600s. "c********r", however, can be traced back to the 1890s that pretty much means what it says it means. The use of it as a slur instead of simply being someone who "performs fellatio" stems from the implied character flaw of allowing oneself to be in a passive role -- either during sex or in general.

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