An unprintable word gets its due

You probably can’t count the number of times each day you hear, say or think the most supreme of swear words. But 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, written by Jesse Sheidlower, an editor of the Oxford English Dictionary.

After an entertaining forward written by F-word–loving comic Lewis Black, Mr. Sheidlower swiftly chronicles the F-word’s earliest appearances in various media, as well as its linguistic roots. From there, he offers an OED-style dictionary of the term and its myriad uses and adaptations, citing terms like “frisking,” “fiber,” “futz” and “motherloving”—not to mention scores of others we won’t print here (though handy for the next time you want to swear creatively). Except this one: “Mammy-jammed.” If you don’t know it, look it up.

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