The etymology of swear words…

The New Statesman has a fascinating article on the derivations of some of my favourite words: fuck, shit and cunt.

In a concerted effort to keep these Anglo-Saxon contributions to the English language alive, I’ve been routinely using these on a daily basis and in the widest possible range of combinations and scenarios. In fact, on occasion I’ve been likened to both Kenneth Tynan (the first person to say ‘fuck’ on British television), and to a sufferer of Tourette’s Syndrome.

Most fascinating to me was the origin of ‘cunt’, which despite the revulsion it still elicits in many women, is comparatively more politically correct than ‘vagina’.

Originally, rather than being a taboo word, it was the general descriptive term for the vagina. Cunt is, etymologically, more feminist than vagina, which is dependent on the penis for its definition, coming from the Latin for “sword sheath”.

Of course, my first thought on reading this was ‘Fuck me! What a cunt I’ve been not knowing this shit to begin with!’


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