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The Evolution of Profanities and Slurs

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THE EVOLUTION OF
PROFANITIES AND
SLURS
History of the English Language
SHIT
Roots:
(OE) scite, scitte, schit
[dung, diarrhea]
(Mid. Low German) scite
-cognate with shoot
[refers to diarrhea in
livestock-1587]
Definition:
refers to a bowel
movement, the actual
excrement
(1382): Excrete
(C. 15th): diarrhea
(1508): A contemptible
person:
“KENNEDIE Flyting
w. Dunbar 496 [Thou
art] A schit, but wit”
(C.18th): removed from
mainstream
acceptance to slang
lexicon
BITCH
Roots:
(O.E. ) Bicce, bicge,
bicche,
bycche, biche, bych(e,
(begch)
(ON.) Bikkja
Definition:
female dog, by extension
spiteful nasty woman,
one who bites, to
complain, something
really good or really bad
(origin -1400 to ca.1660): Lewd
woman, colloquial use
(C. 15): whore
(1600): generalized slur
(1814): Something really
difficult or unpleasant
spiteful or unfair
(ca 1837): vulgar
(1930s): US, synonymous with
masculine woman
SLUT
Roots:
(Scand. Languages) slatte
(Germanic)
schlutt, schlutte, schlutz
Definition:
woman of uncleanly
habits; promiscuous
woman
(1402): Woman of dirty or
uncleanly habits
(c. 1450): woman of loose
morals
(1450): kitchen maid (rare)
(1460): awkward/troublesome
creature
(1664): used in joking
manner, does not denote
bad qualities
(1821): bitch (female dog),
slut-pup
N-WORD
Roots:
(French)neger or negre
[black]
(Latin) niger [black
stone]
Definition:
derogatory term used
by White people;
neutral or approving
by blacks; a screen
used to mask studio
lights
“The word was initially used as a neutral
term, and only began to acquire a
derogatory connotation from the mid
18th cent. onwards (compare sense A.
1b). In standard English usage the
word NEGRO n. had already become the
usual neutral term by the end of the
17th cent. “
(1574): used by non-Blacks as a neutral
umbrella term
(1775): derogatory usage by non-Blacks
(1831): used by Black as neutral or
favorable term
(1835): person who does menial labor,
regardless of color ; i.e. white n-word
(1843): dark skinned person of any origin
(not explicitly Blacks)
F-WORD
Roots:
(French) fagot
[homosexual]
(Italian) fag[n]otto
(Yiddish) faygele [little
bird]
(English) baggage
Definitions:
Bundle of sticks tied
together, derogatory
term for a gay person,
refers to burning
heretics alive
(ca. 1300): bundle of sticks
used as fuel
(1555): burning of
heretics, to be burnt
alive
(1591): a woman
(1859): preceded by little
refers to a child
(late c. 17-19): a man
mustered as a solider
but not yet formally
enlisted
(1914): US only, refers to a
male homosexual
FUCK
Roots:
(Dutch) fokken [to mock]
(Swedish) fokka [to
copulate]
(German) fikken [to rub]
Definition:
To have sexual
intercourse
(C. 15th): to mock, to strike
(1776): to ruin or destroy
(1800): act of sexual
connection
(1866): to cheat, betray
(1922): to impose hatred
upon
(1991): Geoffrey Hughes,
Swearing, “fornicate
under command of the
King”
SHAG
Roots:
obscure origin
(ME) shog [to shake or
roll, shaking condition]
(ME) shogge [to oscillate,
swing, or shake]
Definition:
To have sexual
intercourse, to
masturbate, exhausted
(adj), performer of a
sexual act (n)
(1380): to toss about,
waggle
(1596): to appear in a
shaggy way [read:
disheveled]
(1788): to copulate with
(1851): to make off with,
wander aimlessly
(ca. 19-20): to copulate
(1933): vulgar or profane
meaning, in lieu of �fuck’
DYKE
Roots:
Obscure origins
(OE) Dic [ditch, trench]
(Dutch) dekken [to
cover]
Definitions:
A masculine woman,
lesbian, a trench
(1514): To cover or
ornament
ostentatiously [deck]
(1942): masculine
woman
“BERREY & VAN DE
N BARK Amer. Thes.
Slang В§405/3 Masculi
ne woman,..dike,
dyke. ”
CUNT
Roots:
(Latin) cunnus or
cuneus [wedge]; cu
[femininity]
(M.E.) cunte, count(e)
(ON.) kunta
Definitions:
Slang/derogatory term
for a vagina, most
notable of all
vulgarisms
(1230): in usage
(ca. 1330): cunt as pun
for quaint [refers to
vagina]
(C.15th): removed from
polite spoken English
and writings
(C. 17th): punishable to
write
(1929): Used to refer to
a woman, as verbal
abuse
COCK
Roots:
(OE) cocc, coc, kok
(ON) kokkr
(Latin) cuccus [male
domestic fowl]
Definitions:
Rooster, slang reference
to a penis, pudoris
causa [to impregnate]
(ca. 897): male fowl
(ca.1386): Perversion of
the word “God”; Chaucer
(kokes-goddes)
(ca.1386): applied to men;
watchman
(1481): spout or short pipe
served for passing
liquids through
(1542): refers to a leader of
chief
(1618): First usage as
reference to a penis
PISS
Roots:
(Anglo-Norman) pisser
(Old French) pissier
(Spanish) pixar
All considered cognates
Definitions:
To urinate, shocking
association,
considered low
colloquial
(1300): to urinate
(1390): To discharge
involuntarily (fear,
excitement)
(ca 1760): considered
vulgarism
(1948): To rain heavily
TWAT
Roots:
Obscure, erroneously
used
Definition:
Woman’s behind
(butt/vagina)
(1656): bottom part of a
nun’s attire
(ca. 1660s): synonymous
with vagina
(1929): vulgar usage,
considered hybrid of
“twit” and “cunt”
(1950s): refers to
buttocks
CHOLO (CHOLA)
Roots:
(Amer. Sp.) CholollГЎn,
now Cholula (city in
central Mexico)
Definitions:
Meanings change by
region
(1851): Indian of Mexico
(1860): lower class
Mexican (derogatory)
(C. 21st): Refers to a
drug dealer or rapist
(depending on region);
can be used as
compliment or insult
(2007): Lean Like a
Cholo (Down)
CRACKER (CRACKA)
Roots: [from “crack”]
(OE) cracian
(Dutch) krakken
Definition:
Refers to a White
person, racial slur
(1509): boaster or
braggert
(ca. 1625): a lie
(1766): contemptuous
name for poor Whites,
originally for natives
of Georgia and Florida
(1808): Georgia, “The
Cracker State”
WORKS CITED
п‚ў
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Ayto, John & Simpson, John. (1992). “The Oxford
Dictionary of Modern Slang”. Oxford University
Press, New York, NY.
Green, Jonathon. (2003). “Slang: Down the Ages”. Cox
& Wyman Ltd. Great Britain.
Partridge, Eric. (1961). “A Dictionary of Slang and
Unconventional English”. Sixth Edition, The
MacMillan Company. New York, NY.
Lewis, Chris. (2003). “The Dictionary of Playground
Slang”. Creative Print and Design, Wales.
www.urbandictionary.com
www.mybodyvibes.com
www.slang-dictionary.org
http://peevish.co.uk/slang.r.htm
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