A newly uncovered court document from 1310 is to understanding modern profanity what the discovery of Homo naledi is to understanding modern man, giving us the first recorded use of the work fuck as we comprehend it.
The breakthrough in etymology was made by Dr. Paul Booth, honorary senior research fellow at Keele University, who says he found it by accident while combing through Chester crown court records from the time of Edward II.
There he came across the tale of “Roger Fuckebythenavele,” or, in modern parlance, “Roger the Navel-Fucker.”
Booth says it was likely a genuine nickname and not just the humor of a cheeky court clerk.
Speaking to Vice, Booth explained: “First, that it applies to an actual event — a clumsy attempt at sexual intercourse by an ‘Inexperienced Copulator’ (my name for Roger), revealed to the world by a revengeful former girlfriend. Fourteenth-century revenge porn perhaps? Or it could be a rather elaborate way of describing someone regarded as a “halfwit” — i.e., that is the way that he would think of performing the sexual act.” He’s since notified the Oxford English Dictionary.
The first reference is on December 8, 1310, as Fuckebythenavele is “exacted” for the first time, the start of the process of being named an “outlaw” and then eventually executed. So, fittingly, its first use was describing someone who was totally fucked.