Friday 4 December 2015

Forcing Back the F Word

I should probably warn readers that there may be swear words in this post, and they may come very soon. If you are of a delicate temperament, now is the time to reach for your smelling salts.

I said in The Etymologicon that the word fuck was first recorded in the late fifteenth century, but the word has now been found all the way back in 1310. A historian called Paul Booth was happily leafing through the archives of Chester County Court when he came across (if that is the right expression), a defendant called Roger Fuckbythenavel.

Now, Roger is, of course, a funny name, and I've always thought it appropriate that James Bond was played by a double entendre; but it's the surname here that is new and a trifle surprising. I've spent a little while trying to see if there could be any other meaning at all. And I can't. It's...

How do you get a name like that?

Here I could hypothesise until the home-coming of the cows, but I assume that it must have been a nickname based on poor Roger's poor rogering, or perhaps on some misconception bred from the lack of sex education classes in Chester.

Anyway, it didn't have a good effect on him. Roger Fuckbythenavel was summoned to court three times over the next two years, and it all ended with him being outlawed, which isn't as romantic as it sounds. It probably just meant that he was hanged. And if the hangman did his job properly Roger was...

Dear reader, forgive me, a never saw a pun I didn't like...

Roger was well hung.


  1. Great piece of research, such a joy discovering the not known about.

  2. Ha!

    'Pierce' trumps 'Roger' in the double-oh-seven double entendre game, don't you think? :)

  3. May I presume you heard the recent Lexicon Valley podcast on this discovery?

  4. I was having such a crap morning. Then I read this post. Glad to have met you, Mark. Gladder still to have your posts to hand should I need a pick-me-up! :-)

  5. I bought "The elements of eloquence" today, having seen it for the first time and on an impulse, and I proceeded to spend the next two hours in my local café laughing out loud. You're really very funny, and I just wanted to send a note of thanks from Australia for this excellent book!