Earliest Version of "Motherf*cker / Motherf*cking"

Shapiro, Fred fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Sat Mar 23 14:00:08 UTC 2013

(I use * in this message to try to avoid its being blocked by people's e-mail systems.)

The earliest version of "motherf*cker" or "motherf*cking" in OED is from an 1889 Texas judicial opinion, contributed by me (if you look at my Wikipedia biography, you would think this kind of thing is the main focus of my researches).  I have now found an earlier citation, again from those colorful late-19th-century Texas courts:

1888 _Texas Court of Appeals Reports_ 25: 426 ff. (Lexis)  J. H. Battle testified, for the State, that a very short while before the killing of Crisman, Herbert Matthewson opened a conversation with Crisman about the shot that was understood to have been fired at Crisman a few nights before. Matthewson soon left, and witness took a seat on the bench at the edge of the sidewalk in front of Crisman's store. Crisman stepped to the edge of the sidewalk and placed his foot on the bench and entered into a conversation with witness. Within a few minutes Taylor Ridge came along and asked Crisman to show him how near the would be assassin of a few nights before came to "getting his meat." Crisman replied that he did not then have on the coat through which the bullet passed. Crisman then remarked that the man who fired that shot at him was a cowardly son of a bitch and would not dare to face him. Ridge passed on up the street, and Crisman again remarked that whoever fired that shot at him was a "mammy f -- g son of a bitch."

I will look the case up in the printed book and post a more precise citation.

Fred Shapiro
YALE BOOK OF QUOTATIONS (Yale University Press)

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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