The Origin of Swear Words

While reading DM’s blog post Reading From The Book Of Fulghum- Maybe (Maybe Not) and the comments I found myself truly shaking my head. There is much to be said about a person reading another’s blog and then castigating them about a swear word. Low and behold if that person should ever find this blog… phew!

In my opinion if you don’t like something someone wrote just leave it and move on. Meaning, if someone used the word shit for instance and you didn’t like it then that is your problem, not the authors, especially if there was a disclaimer first off.

So here with is your disclaimer. There are a lot of swear words in this post, if you feel they might pollute your mind please refrain from reading any further. Thank you.


Word History: The word shit appeared about 1,000 years ago and can be traced back to Old Norse origin ’skíta’. It first leaked into Old English as ’scitte’ and from there forming into Middle English as ’sch?tte.’ Anglo-Saxon books use ’scittan’ as a reference to when the cattle had diarrhoea. For most of its history it was spelled ’shite’ though evidence of its now modern spelling can be found in books dated as far back as the mid-1700’s. Even today we find remains of the world in the Icelandic language. The words ’skítur’ (noun) and ’skíta’ (verb) are still used.

Extensive slang usage; verb meaning “to lie, to tease” is from 1934; that of “to disrespect” is from 1903. Noun use for “obnoxious person” is since at least 1508; meaning “misfortune, trouble” is attested from 1937. Shat is a humorous past tense form, not etymological, first recorded 18c. Shite, now a jocular or slightly euphemistic variant, formerly a dialectal variant, reflects the vowel in the O.E. verb (cf. Ger. scheissen). Shit-faced “drunk” is 1960s student slang; shit list is from 1942. To not give a shit “not care” is from 1922; up shit creek “in trouble” is from 1937. Scared shitless first recorded 1936.

Shit is now a very common and not so frowned upon swear word

The image on the left is the definition of “Shit Happens”


Word History: The word fuck, much like shit (and actually the majority of common curse words), came from languages with a Germanic background. It is believed that it came into our language from the Dutch around the 15th century. The word was so taboo that a small amount of documents remain that would allow us to have a better understanding of its origins. The reason that little evidence remains was that people at the time were too afraid to write the word down.

The obscenity fuck is a very old word and has been considered shocking from the first, though it is seen in print much more often now than in the past. Its first known occurrence, in code because of its unacceptability, is in a poem composed in a mixture of Latin and English sometime before 1500. The poem, which satirizes the Carmelite friars of Cambridge, England, takes its title, “Flen flyys,” from the first words of its opening line, “Flen, flyys, and freris,” that is, “fleas, flies, and friars.” The line that contains fuck reads “Non sunt in coeli, quia gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk.” The Latin words “Non sunt in coeli, quia,” mean “they [the friars] are not in heaven, since.” The code “gxddbov xxkxzt pg ifmk” is easily broken by simply substituting the preceding letter in the alphabet, keeping in mind differences in the alphabet and in spelling between then and now: i was then used for both i and j; v was used for both u and v; and vv was used for w. This yields “fvccant [a fake Latin form] vvivys of heli.” The whole thus reads in translation: “They are not in heaven because they fuck wives of Ely [a town near Cambridge].”

It is thought to be an Acronym for Fornication Under Consent of King. This acronym was placed on placards to be posted on doors of couples who had permission from the King to have sex.

Fuck is still gaining in normality but we shall see


The word asshole is from the word arse, which according to the Oxford English Dictionary has been in use since the 11th century to refer to the ass of an animal. Starting roughly around 14th century it was used to refer to a person’s buttocks.

Around 1500 the combined form ‘arsehole’ was first used in its literal form to refer to the anus. The metaphorical use that refers to the worst place in a region (e.g., “the asshole of the world”) is first attested in print in 1865. Its use to refer to a despicable person is first record in 1933.

To the rest of the English speaking world, the word ass is still interpreted as donkey.


The word “crap” comes from the last name of the person who invented the toilet, Thomas Crapper. He was a Brit.


Bitch is a term for the female of a canine in general. It is also frequently used as an offensive term for a malicious, spiteful, domineering, intrusive, or unpleasant person, especially a woman.

This second meaning has been in use since around 1400. When used to describe a male, it may also confer the meaning of “subordinate”, especially to another male, as in prison.

Generally, this term is used to indicate that the person is acting outside the confines of their gender roles, such as when women are assertive or aggressive, or when men are passive or servile. More recent variants of bitch are bitchy, ill-tempered (1925), and to bitch, to complain (1930).

Since the 1980s, the term “bitch” became more and more accepted and less offensive. After the word was widely used between rivals Krystle and Alexis on the drama Dynasty, it gained usage, in malicious contexts or otherwise, and is now very rarely censored on television broadcasts. Prior to the term’s general acceptance, euphemism terms were often substituted, such as “gun” in the phrase “son of a gun” as opposed to “son of a bitch“. More generally the term has also acquired the meaning of something unpleasant or irksome, as in the expression “Life’s a Bitch”.

I know I will never be the same again either *shrug* – there were so many more but I didn’t want to bore you and they do tend to go down the sliding scale from here on … Do you know that calling a person a pig in some lands is considered a swear word worse than any of the above? Yet we can use it daily…

There is a time and a place for anything and everything – I do not condone swearing but will use many of the above words when walking into things. I am not ashamed, I swear and you were warned right.

Thank you to Wikipedia, and Profanisaurus

44 thoughts on “The Origin of Swear Words

    1. I loved it. I am in the process of writing a book. One of my pieces is a memoir writing. I used the word cunt to describe my siblings in the treatment of my mother while she was dying of cancer. During this time I sent my writing out there and many people got a hold of that word and just had to change it. Cunt continually got changed to ‘people’. I wrote: ‘ We are a rotten, despicable bunch of cunts without heart or conscience ‘. That just about hit the nail on the head. Thanks for your post.

  1. and to think I call my friends pigs all the time…ie “you pig” or “you egg sucking toad”..things like that…not to mention YOUR tendency to refer to your extended blogging friends and family members as chimps 😉

    In some respects it has as much to do w/ our attitude of the heart as anything…and not to get all Biblical on you but there are portions of the scripture where God says he would like to take the shit of the sacrifical animals and rub it in the faces of the corrupt priesthood…not if that isn’t a little edgy I don’t know what is.

  2. wow.. now i don’t have to wonder why there are such words and although i’ve heard about what fuck stands for before, i never imagined that the word CRAP came from someone else’s last name. LOL! very informative, Aud, and it did make me laugh, almost fell off of my chair actually.

  3. I am so offended cuz I never, ever, ever use any words like that. Ever. Right, Amber? 😉

    Thanks for the laugh. As usual, you have ensured that my Sunday is ending on a note of hilarity!

  4. kwoneshe2 Lol glad you enjoyed, it was fun putting it together!

    DM Hear hear I couldn’t agree more, these words have been around since the start of time, they’ve just evolved is all and society has made them what they are or rather the level of “evil”… I can’t imagine stumping my toe on the corner of a doorway and not swearing *shrug*

    Froggywoogie Dang!!! I forgot the word bloody, shit!

    ifoundme am glad you enjoyed it, yeah a lot of our surnames come from words and visa versa. Mine thankfully can not be shortened or used as a swear word though it is pretty scarily close!

    Amber My mind is a wonderland lol glad you enjoyed it! P.S. No stars on this blog post… shit shit shit! Ah that felt good!

    Ilegirl Yers I have heard you are all innocent and erm neffa swear at alls and erm don’t steal chocolate coated strawberries at all either! Yeah yeah!

    Glad you all enjoyed…

  5. Anything with ass in it is likely to derive from America. Most British and Irish swearing uses “Arse”.

    And I’d dispute the allegation that crap is derived from Thomas Crapper (he did not invent the flushing toilet by the way – he patented things other people had invented). I’m pretty sure the word appears in Shakespeare (along with just about every swear word you can imagine – but not in the bowdlerized versions)

  6. Id actually be very interested in an updated list if you wouldnt mind sending it to my email on your free time. Good stuff tho.

  7. Hey, I just saw this now! The acronym of Fuck is just made up. There are more similar acronyms, but the real source is ancient germanic. The original meaning is “hitting against” or “hittin hard against”. In Swedish there is still the non-vulgar term “Slöfock” which is common name calling for a lazy person. Slö means tired or malfunctioning (the same word as english “slow”), so the original menaing of “slöfock” would be someone who is so tired or slow that he repeatedly “hits hard” against the couch or sofa or bed. It’s still a very usual widespread non-vulgar term. Ethymologically, the most correct translation would be… Slowfuck!

  8. I wanted to let you know that the word SHIT also came from when they had to ship fertilizer (feces) across bodies of water and would stamp S.H.I.T. on the boxes (Ship High In Transit) to avoid water-logging. Just a little bit of information.

  9. Crap is not derived from Thomas Crapper…that is a myth. FUCK does not stand for Fornication Under Consent of the King….another myth. check out

  10. I’m commenting on the origin of the word “fuck.” I always thought that the word originated from early middle ages. During the time when people were placed in stocks with there head and hands locked in tight. The crime they commited was placed above there head for all the town to see (e.g. murder, adultery, stealing) The word “fuck” originated as an acronym, shortening the name of the crime Fornication Using Carnal Knowledge. people would walk by and say to themselves, “hmm, they were caught fucking!”

  11. I thought the word fuck came from the Anglo Saxon for a mess up, hence cock up. As in yoiu made a right fuck of that, to mess up to cock up and eventually cock up was related to the sex act, but could still be looked at as the mess up when the female became pregnant it goes back to cock up mess up or you made a right fuck of that.

  12. The word Fuck Originated from the Christian religion ..If you were found to say things dealing with sex ..or act out or think anything to do with sex…Punishment you were put in a stock with your head and two hands and it was marked F. U. C. K “For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge”

  13. Interesting article, but you’re wrong about Thomas Crapper – the word ‘crap’ has nothing to do with him. This is from the Online Etymology Dictionary –
    ‘crap (v.) Look up crap at
    “defecate,” 1846, from one of a cluster of words generally applied to things cast off or discarded (such as “weeds growing among corn” (early 15c.), “residue from renderings” (late 15c.), underworld slang for “money” (18c.), and in Shropshire, “dregs of beer or ale”), all probably from Middle English crappe “grain that was trodden underfoot in a barn, chaff” (mid-15c.), from Middle French crape “siftings,” from Old French crappe, from Medieval Latin crappa, crapinum “chaff.” Related: Crapped; crapping.

    Despite folk etymology insistence, not from Thomas Crapper (1837-1910) who was, however, a busy plumber and may have had some minor role in the development of modern toilets. The name Crapper is a northern form of Cropper (attested from 1221), an occupational surname, obviously, but the exact reference is unclear. Crap (v.) as a variant of crop (v.) was noted early 19c, as a peculiarity of speech in Scotland and the U.S. Southwest (Arkansas, etc.).

  14. I love your blog! This made me laugh and for the assholes who want to edit this blog in their comment, fuck off and I mean that in the kindest of ways! There always has to be someone who tries to one up someone or something! I love your class-act response to their wanna be edit! Lmao. I guess you could say I curse. You have your warning!

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