In breaking historical profanity news, Dr. Paul Booth of Keele University has announced the earliest known use of “fuck.” The previous earliest cite was from c. 1475. Dr. Booth has antedated this by a century and a half. He found it in the Cheshire County Rolls listed in a court case dated December 8, 1310. One “‘Roger Fuckebythenavele” was being outlawed. Here it is:
Middle English had a pattern of nicknames used as surnames. The standard work on the subject is Jan Jansjo, Studies on Middle English Nicknames. It is long out of print and surprisingly expensive as a used book. If you see one cheap, grab it! I’ll buy it off you if you don’t want it. Most of the nicknames were more prosaic, but a few here and there are…. startling. “Fuckbythenavele” fits right in.
What does it mean? Just what you think it means. Dr. Booth suggests that it it means “dimwit.” Roger is so dumb that he doesn’t know what part goes where.
This sort of thing just makes me feel tingly all over.