The F-Word

The F-Word

by Random House, Random House Staff

WARNING: Usually considered vulgar. X-rated. Censored. Bleep. Not for polite company. Due to adult language, viewer and parental discretion advised. Wash your mouth out with soap. Good boys and girls don't use that kind of language. Obscene. Immoral. Immodest. And indecent.

IS THIS ALL YOU THINK ABOUT…  See more details below


WARNING: Usually considered vulgar. X-rated. Censored. Bleep. Not for polite company. Due to adult language, viewer and parental discretion advised. Wash your mouth out with soap. Good boys and girls don't use that kind of language. Obscene. Immoral. Immodest. And indecent.


Has any other single word ever sparked so much creativity, and captured so many imaginations? The F-Word contains page after page of actual, uncensored examples of the word in all its varied and robust use, from its first appearance in English in the fifteenth century to its use in the Starr Report.

This second edition includes many new words and phrases, F-words from Britain, Ireland, and Australia, and hundreds of new examples of usage. Words, explanations, and examples come from thousands of sources, including Robert Burns, Norman Mailer, E.E. Cummings, Ernest Hemingway, Liz Phair, Jack Kerouac, Anne Sexton, Playboy, and the Internet.

Here is all you've (n)ever wanted to know about the word still considered the most vulgar utterance in the English language—and perhaps one of the most creative, as well.

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Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
Considering the cloud long hanging over it in more refined circles, the "F" word delights amateur linguists the world over, as they employ it frequently, fluidly, and with great relish. Whether noun, verb, adjective, or adverb, colorful uses abound, and new variations continually creep into the lexicon. Like a mushroom, the "F" word has multiplied in the dark, growing strong, pungent, and resilient.

In The F-Word, author Sheidlower happily traces the humble beginnings and endless permutations of the granddaddy of all English-language profanity. More than a slang dictionary, The F-Word is a proud, uncensored exploration of a short, sharp shock of a word.

Here's a cultural reference point for you: Plug into the soundtrack for the original Woodstock festival, 1969's shining moment of generational unity. Skip over Richie Havens, Joe Cocker, The Who, and even Jimi Hendrix re-imagining "The Stars Spangled Banner." Instead, cue up Country Joe McDonald and the Fish, and check out "The Fish Cheer." A spelling lesson to end all spelling lessons: "Gimme an 'F.'" "'F!'" Several hundred thousand people, giving voice to society's most verboten word. "What's it spell?" Talk about catharsis. Talk about freedom.

And as many imaginative variations you might know, including any longshoremen still out there, The F-Word will undoubtedly increase your verbal dexterity. From one lone syllable first recorded almost 500 years ago, the "F" word has grown into an entire army of colloquial expressions. Ironically, speaking of the Army, the military can be thanked fortheintroduction of numerous acronyms that incorporate the "F" word - SNAFU being the most famous and the most fabulous, as it allows for open understanding without recrimination.

In the second edition, Sheidlower adds scores more examples to the engaging text, rifling the English canon with grand results. For every stuffed shirt who would never dare utter such gutterspeak, some saucy scribe or punny peon has worked doubly hard to use the "F" word in a novel, terribly picturesque fashion. And Sheidlower glories in detailing his finds: the Scotsman's Scot, Robert Burns; Papa Hemingway: e.e. cummings; Jack Kerouac; and many others.

So powerful is the "F" word that a mere allusion will often convey the larger story, a device which allows the fine and crafty screenwriters at "NYPD Blue" to push the envelope, week in, week out. Wonder what George Carlin's thoughts would be on Detective Sipowicz, as Andy foams and sputters and spews and says, "No effing way."

The F-Word. Un-effing-believable!

From the Publisher
"Sheidlower's 'The F Word' has provided inordinate delight and distraction from my normal working day."—The New Yorker

"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."—Very Short List

"Funny, yet surprisingly informative... The F Word is an encyclopedia for all things, well, f***ed."—Entertainment Weekly

"God bless lexicographers, you know? The F-Word is no thin bathroom book, either, but a meticulously researched 320-page hardcover reference tome, robust enough to sit alongside the OED." —SF Weekly

"The F Word is a gem in its lexicographical expertise and its scholarly explication. There will be nothing better, at least until Jesse Sheidlower produces a fourth edition."—Jonathon Green, editor of Chambers Slang Dictionary

"A thoroughgoing exploration of the most celebrated verb/noun/adjective/adverb/interjection/infix in English, with ample citations of its use over the past five and a half centuries."—John McIntyre, You Don't Say blog

"Sheidlower's introduction undertakes a swift and no-nonsense debunking of some common myths about the word...This is vulgarity at its most erudite."—Inside Higher Ed

"The detailed lexicon of the word's many uses and compounds is fascinating."—Milwaukee Shepherd Express

"Investigat[es] every possible combination, situation, and divagation in which the most notorious expletive in English can be found. For a word that can't be printed in most newspapers, it's certainly leading a rich, full life." —Erin McKean, Boston Globe

"A must for anyone interested in the most notorious of English obscenities. This is not one of those pro forma 'revisions' that correct a few errors, toss in a few added items, and add a new preface; the text of the dictionary is twice as large as the second edition, over a hundred new words and senses have been added, and it now aims to cover the entire English-speaking world. This book makes me proud to be a part of a civilization that could produce such a thing." —Stephen Dodson, The Millions

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Product Details

Random House Information Group
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
4.77(w) x 7.14(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Jesse Sheidlower is Editor at Large of the Oxford English Dictionary. Recognized as one of the foremost authorities on obscenity in English, he has written about language for the New York Times, Atlantic Monthly, Harper's, Slate, and Esquire, as well as American Speech and the Journal of English Linguistics.

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