Jesse Sheidlower is the editor-at-large of the Oxford English Dictionary, which is a cool enough job. But he is also author of a book I wish I had written: The F-Word.
Due out next month is the third edition of what Sheidlower’s blog calls “The Complete History of the Word. Yes, That One.”
“It is, in effect, the Oxford English Dictionary of fuck, listing hundreds of words, compounds, and phrases, each one supported by numerous real examples from sources throughout history showing how the word has been used,” he writes.
Earlier editions were published in 1995 and 1999 by Random House. The Third Edition of The F-Word is being published by Oxford University Press in September, 2009.
This new edition is significantly enlarged and updated. The text of the book is almost exactly twice as large as the previous edition, and there are over 120 new words and senses, from artfuck (in several senses) to XXXX (a British euphemism for fuck in the expression to give a fuck, after a 1980s advertising campaign for Castlemaine XXXX beer).
Here’s a sample entry:
1. an orgy.
1965 East Village Other (Oct.) 2/3: As soon as they legalize “pornies” I’ll be the first producer to hit the neighborhood theatres with my now in progress epic film entitled “Mongolian Cluster Fuck!” 1967–68 N. von Hoffman We Are the People Our Parents Warned Us Against 182: Oh, those big cluster fucks! I can’t stand them. 1968 “A. D’Arcangelo” Homosexual Handbook 115: You may see many of the people at your “do” only at other “cluster fucks,” having nothing in common with them but a taste for orgies. 1969 G. D. Bartell Group Sex 134: One advantage of open versus closed swinging, according to most of our informants, is the possiblity of “three-on-one” or “gang bang” (sometimes called “clusterfuck”) activity. 1972 R.A. Wilson Playboy’s Book of Forbidden Words 69: Cluster Fuck—Two men copulating simultaneously with the same woman. 1975 G. Legman No Laughing Matter 754: The cheap hippie “group-grope” and “cluster-fuck.” 1977 National Lampoon (Aug.) 50: Well, they’re usually pretty wrapped up in a cluster-fuck with the photo models. 1986 J. Ellroy Suicide Hill 699: I’m startin’ to feel like the bottom man in a Mongolian cluster fuck. 2001 J. Ellroy Cold Six Thousand xxi. 115: Pete saw cartoons and FBI text. Hate and smut—a coon named Bayard Rustin—a queer cluster-fuck.
2. Military. a bungled or confused undertaking or situation; mess; (also) a disorganized group of individuals.
You get the idea.
Sheidlower’s site offers a FWOTD, or Fuck Word of the Day (today’s is “hate-fuck”). Also, be sure to go to the FAQ section, which answers the following question: Why did you write this book? And: What does your mother think of it? And: Isn’t “fuck” a bad word that should be avoided?
Thanks to John McIntyre, who writes the blog You Don’t Say, on language and editing, for posting a note about the bookon his Facebook page recently, word-lover that he is.