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The F-Word [Hardcover]

by Jesse Sheidlower, Lewis Black
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

September 4, 2009 0195393112 978-0195393118 3
We all know what frak, popularized by television's cult hit Battlestar Galactica, really means. But what about feck? Or ferkin? Or foul--as in FUBAR, or "Fouled Up Beyond All Recognition"?

In a thoroughly updated edition of The F-Word, Jesse Sheidlower offers a rich, revealing look at the f-bomb and its illimitable uses. Since the fifteenth century, no other word has been adapted, interpreted, euphemized, censored, and shouted with as much ardor or force; imagine Dick Cheney telling Democratic Senator Patrick Leahy to "go damn himself" on the Senate floor--it doesn't have quite the same impact as what was really said. Sheidlower cites this and other notorious examples throughout history, from the satiric sixteenth-century poetry of James Cranstoun to the bawdy parodies of Lord Rochester in the seventeenth century, to more recent uses by Ernest Hemingway, Jack Kerouac, Ann Sexton, Norman Mailer, Liz Phair, Anthony Bourdain, Junot Diaz, Jenna Jameson, Amy Winehouse, Jon Stewart, and Bono (whose use of the word at the Grammys nearly got him fined by the FCC).

Collectively, these references and the more than one hundred new entries they illustrate double the size of The F-Word since its previous edition. Thousands of added quotations come from newly available electronic databases and the resources of the OED, expanding the range of quotations to cover British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealand, Irish, and South African uses in addition to American ones. Thus we learn why a fugly must hone his or her sense of humor, why Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau muttered "fuddle duddle" in the Commons, and why Fanny Adams is so sweet. A fascinating introductory essay explores the word's history, reputation, and changing popularity over time. and a new Foreword by comedian, actor, and author Lewis Black offers readers a smart and entertaining take on the book and its subject matter.

Oxford dictionaries have won renown for their expansive, historical approach to words and their etymologies. The F-Word offers all that and more in an entertaining and informative look at a word that, while now largely accepted as an integral part of the English language, still confounds, provokes, and scandalizes.

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The F-Word + Holy Sh*t: A Brief History of Swearing
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Editorial Reviews

Review


"Sheidlower's 'The F Word' has provided inordinate delight and distraction from my normal working day."--The New Yorker


"It wasn't so long ago that the dear old F-bomb was barely uttered outside of private conversation, let alone written into literature or film or television. Here to educate you on its illustrious lineage--not to mention its present and future--is The F Word, a handsome, concise and erudite history of the term."--Very Short List


"Funny, yet surprisingly informative... The F Word is an encyclopedia for all things, well, f***ed."--Entertainment Weekly


"God bless lexicographers, you know? The F-Word is no thin bathroom book, either, but a meticulously researched 320-page hardcover reference tome, robust enough to sit alongside the OED." --SF Weekly


"The F Word is a gem in its lexicographical expertise and its scholarly explication. There will be nothing better, at least until Jesse Sheidlower produces a fourth edition."--Jonathon Green, editor of Chambers Slang Dictionary


"A thoroughgoing exploration of the most celebrated verb/noun/adjective/adverb/interjection/infix in English, with ample citations of its use over the past five and a half centuries."--John McIntyre, You Don't Say blog


"Sheidlower's introduction undertakes a swift and no-nonsense debunking of some common myths about the word...This is vulgarity at its most erudite."--Inside Higher Ed


"The detailed lexicon of the word's many uses and compounds is fascinating."--Milwaukee Shepherd Express


"Investigat[es] every possible combination, situation, and divagation in which the most notorious expletive in English can be found. For a word that can't be printed in most newspapers, it's certainly leading a rich, full life." --Erin McKean, Boston Globe


"A must for anyone interested in the most notorious of English obscenities. This is not one of those pro forma 'revisions' that correct a few errors, toss in a few added items, and add a new preface; the text of the dictionary is twice as large as the second edition, over a hundred new words and senses have been added, and it now aims to cover the entire English-speaking world. This book makes me proud to be a part of a civilization that could produce such a thing." --Stephen Dodson, The Millions


About the Author


Jesse Sheidlower is Editor at Large of the Oxford English Dictionary. Recognized as one of the foremost authorities on obscenity in English, he has written about language for the New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Slate, and Esquire, as well as American Speech and the Journal of English Linguistics.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA; 3 edition (September 4, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195393112
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195393118
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #375,318 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OMFG! Awesome... January 16, 2010
Format:Hardcover
Jesse Sheidlower's Third Edition of The F-Word is a polished and brilliantly researched historical dictionary of a very important word. Sheidlower manages to educate and entertain in a style all his own, making this book a joy to read. The introduction is long, but well worth reading each word... in fact, I won a friendly debate with someone who insisted this word originated as an acronym! The entries and citations are astoundingly comprehensive; The F-Word is freakin' fabulous. I am writing this review from BFE, with gratitude to Jesse Sheidlower for including "BFE" in his book, along with so many other entries which I was unaware existed.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sheer Delight September 18, 2009
Format:Hardcover
This is a superb idea, masterfully executed, and I can think of no other who could have brought to the task the panache and erudition that Jesse Sheidlower has. This new edition of The F-Word is considerably larger than the previous one (I believe it is about twice the size), so even if you already own this book you've no excuse for not buying it again.
Educational without a hint of boredom, and containing more linguistic imaginativeness than should be possible with such a little word - this is a book to give to all and sundry in your life.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars A waste, a gimmick but not particularly insightful January 13, 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This title is a dictionary and contains many uses of the titular word and stand-ins that can take its place. There were a few that I did not know but by and large there were no surprises, which in itself might count as one but still, I did expect to learn something.

The introduction definitely held some potential, but then was all too short. Certainly, it covered a fair bit of ground but could have done so much more. Actually trace usage across languages or influences from other languages are either missing or glossed over. Granted it makes excuses on these fronts but given I am fluent in German I know there is more that could be talked about. And similarly, there could have been more exploration of taboo words and across other cultures. This however is not that book, and really that was what it left me wondering about.

Rather, this contains some uses I suspect most English speakers will know, intuitively perhaps :) . Also, despite claims to greater awareness outside of American uses, it definitely lacked some uses we have in Australia, and although these were not so missed, it did draw this US focus into focus.

Overall, this book is a gimmick, possibly a primary reference for a very select audience, but not something one would refer to often, and thus defeating its primary purpose. Certainly not a complete waste so much as a missed opportunity, not just for the reader but also the editor.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Serious information July 29, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I use this word. It is versatile, compelling and above all else it still retains a power other words do not convey. This is a dictionary, a compendium of information about the word. It is well written and well researched.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scholarly exploration of "the most immodest word" April 4, 2013
Format:Hardcover
Scholarly exploration of "the most immodest word"

"'Tis needful that the most immodest word / Be looked upon and learned."--William Shakespeare in "Henry IV, Part II"

Remember when then-Vice President Dick Cheney told Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) to "Go f*** yourself" on the floor of the United States Senate? (on June 22, 2004). Leahy took it all in stride and joked about the incident in 2007: "When it comes to the vice president, it's always better to be sworn in than to be sworn at."

Now we have the acronym, "WTF" (shorthand for "What the f***?")--regularly seen on facebook and in twitter and text messages.

The most vulgar, most obscene and most verboten slang word in the English language now has an entire book devoted just to it. "The last taboo has fallen," trumpeted "U.S. News & World Report."

Numerous word-usage examples are provided and documented beginning as early as the 1500s and 1600s, with the original shocking connotation of an act of copulation.

More recent examples--historical, popular, literary and academic--come from "Time," "Newsweek" and Frank Zappa--"SNAFU" ("Time," 1942, "a laconic Army term for 'situation normal, all f***ed up'"), "FUBAR" ("Newsweek," 1944, "fouled up beyond all recognition"), "Eff" (Ernest Hemingway, 1945, "Just tell them to Eff off."), and "Mr. Bufu" (for butt-f***er), from Frank Zappa's 1982 hit song "Valley Girl."

Contains an elaborate foreword by Roy Blount, Jr.--plus the excellent introduction by Sheidlower sheds light on our contemporary slang state of mind, the early etymological provenance of the "f word," a chronological exploration of the "f word's" appearances in dictionaries, and an exploration of euphemisms for and phrases containing the "f word.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is F-ing fantastic! July 4, 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is F-ing fantastic. I have never spent so many precious hours delighting in lexicography as I have reading this book (not to suggest that lexicography is in any way boring). So many examples of "F-word" compounds come from the Australian military. Curious. You should f-ing read this book.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A dictionary I couldn't put down March 11, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I admit, I am one of "those people" who has been known to thumb casually through a dictionary, "just for fun". A good dictionary is essentially a fascinating collision of menu and short-story collection, and not just a simple reference.

"The F Word" is an intense version of that experience: many entries are quite rich in history, and it is easy to treat this dictionary as if it were, in fact, an impressively focused work of postmodern fiction.

But it is, in fact, a dictionary. And one that appears to be the product of a significant amount of research. It has occupied a prominent position on my shelf for a couple years now, and I find myself still coming back to it over and over again.

Also: it makes for a fantastic presented for any profane word nerds in your life.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Didn't like it
The beginning was interesting with the history of where it may have started, but it just never seemed to get better. Just kind of droned on. I did not finish the book. Read more
Published 14 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Super book, rightly now in hardcover
My vocabulary needed this book. Now you can swear with effect without having to have spent your entire life hanging out with the bad kids...

Well done, Jesse!
Published 15 months ago by Mark Bladon
1.0 out of 5 stars Second Times a Charm
Wrote a very thorough review of this book last year(and updated it) but somehow .. for some reason, it was deleted without my permission or immediate(timely) acknowledgement. Read more
Published 16 months ago by K. Stone
5.0 out of 5 stars Amazing Find!
A WARNING: This book definitely contains adult content.

I purchased this book as a Christmas present for my boyfriend, but wound up reading through most of if... Read more
Published on January 20, 2012 by TreasDev
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Coversation Starter
I saw this in a book store, thought it would make a nice xmas gift for my precher. We will see if he has a sense of humor - it certainly would help his sermons.
Published on October 30, 2011 by Franklin Mayer
4.0 out of 5 stars F**** this book--Just kidding
This book was a gift and well received by the reader. It has been read by several in our family and given each reader a chuckle.
Published on April 25, 2011 by Sara Steiger
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting research, 99.8% adult language
A interesting research of the history and possible origins of the F word; although not quite pinpointing one specific origin. Read more
Published on November 7, 2009 by Kenny
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