Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Jan 16 04:10:39 UTC 2003

Nobody seems to have cited the HDAS on this thread.  It's not
decisive--acknowledging "origin unknown" as it does--but the entry
does suggest, tentatively, "abstraction from a phrase such as 'You're
fuckin A-number-one right!"  I'm not convinced.

In any case, there are lots of useful cites, many from a military
context, beginning with one from Mailer's _The Naked and the Dead_

"You're fuggin ay", Gallagher snorted.

(I forget of whom the story was told--Mary McCarthy? Lillian
Hellman?--that when she was introduced to Norman Mailer she announced
to him "So YOU'RE the man who doesn't know how to spell 'fuck'".)

Anyway, the HDAS entry goes on for over a column, including "fucking
Able" (from the military 'spelling' of A) and "fucking A well".
Several distinct uses of "fucking A" are distinguished, as variously
to signal assent, astonishment, dismay, or recognition, as an
intensifier, as an equivalent to 'very well' or to 'splendid' (modulo
the register shift, one assumes--just try out "Very well, splendid,
fuckin A" with an RP accent).  There's also a nice use (treated as a
separate nominal sense) of "fucking A" as a minimizer--more
specifically a squatitive--in negative polarity contexts:  "Youth
workers. Shit on them.  They don't know fucking A about us."


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