British historian uncovers the oldest written use of the f-word

British historian uncovers the oldest written use of the f-word

Turns out, people were dropping the f-bomb way back in 1310. When British Historian Paul Booth of Keele University was flipping through a court document from the city of Chester, he made an entirely unexpected discovery: An outlaw listed by the name of “Roger Fuckebythenavele.” Believed to be a nickname, this marks the oldest written use of the f-word in the English language.

Previously, its earliest written use was thought to have been in the 1500s. Booth’s discovery, however, moves that date up over 200 years, “shift[ing] back the rough historical consensus on the when the word widely entered the vernacular as a vulgar, pejorative term,” The Washington Post reports.

The word appears three different times in the 1310 document, suggesting that “Fuckebythenavale” was a nickname and not simply a one-time joke. “I suggest it could either mean an actual attempt at copulation by an inexperienced youth, later reported by a rejected girlfriend,” Booth said of the term’s likely meaning, “or an equivalent of the word ‘dimwit,’ i.e. a man who might think that was the correct way to go about it.”

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