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3.9 out of 5 stars
The F-Word
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on September 19, 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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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on January 17, 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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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on January 13, 2013
Format: HardcoverVerified 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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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
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."

An outstanding addition to the scholarly documentation, semantics and etymology of the English language! This tome belongs in every public library and every academic library. Individuals who endeavor and aspire to acquire "V.D."--"vocabulary development"--will also want to read this book--and then read some of the many works cited in the usage-examples.

Well reviewed by "U.S. News & World Report," "Time Out New York," "Seattle Weekly," the "Minneapolis Star-Tribune," "Entertainment Weekly," "SF Weekly," "The New Yorker," the "Boston Globe" and many other mainstream media outlets.

Reviewed second edition, 1999.

Third edition, 2009, is still in print and available.

See also "Jesse's Word of the Day" by Jesse Sheidlower.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on July 10, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
This is simply a dictionary of the word and its many uses. I had hoped for a more discursive approach.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on March 12, 2014
Format: HardcoverVerified 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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: Kindle EditionVerified 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
on July 4, 2012
Format: HardcoverVerified 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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on January 26, 2015
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I thought this would be more entertaining.... I skimmed through it once and haven't picked it up since. That was about 2 years ago.
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Format: Hardcover
Got a whole new perspective ! Good Read !
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