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

George Thompson george.thompson at NYU.EDU
Sat Mar 23 16:19:42 UTC 2013

Lowry has created a website for his transcriptions of Civil War Court
Martial records:

Glancing at it quickly, it doesn't seem designed to answer the
question of how many enlisted men called their sergeant a
mother-fucker.  But maybe.  A $5 fee for records retrieved.

Although it is disquieting that Lowry was accused on evidently
convincing evidence of misusing material in the National Archives, it
hardly seems likely that he can have fabricated the records behind his
many books -- though we English majors, some of us, anyway, recall the
Collier forgeries and shudder.


On Sat, Mar 23, 2013 at 10:31 AM, Jonathan Lighter
<wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com> wrote:
> Despite Thomas Lowry's later scholarly misdeed, I see no serious reason to
> discount the "1865-66" ex. of "motherf*cking" that I posted on Dec. 3,
> 2009.
> JL
> On Sat, Mar 23, 2013 at 10:00 AM, Shapiro, Fred <fred.shapiro at yale.edu>wrote:
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       "Shapiro, Fred" <fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU>
>> Subject:      Earliest Version of "Motherf*cker / Motherf*cking"
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> (I use * in this message to try to avoid its being blocked by people's
>> e-ma=
>> il 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
>> Wikipedi=
>> a biography, you would think this kind of thing is the main focus of my
>> res=
>> earches).  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
>> tes=
>> tified, for the State, that a very short while before the killing of
>> Crisma=
>> n, Herbert Matthewson opened a conversation with Crisman about the shot
>> tha=
>> t was understood to have been fired at Crisman a few nights before.
>> Matthew=
>> son soon left, and witness took a seat on the bench at the edge of the
>> side=
>> walk in front of Crisman's store. Crisman stepped to the edge of the
>> sidewa=
>> lk and placed his foot on the bench and entered into a conversation with
>> wi=
>> tness. Within a few minutes Taylor Ridge came along and asked Crisman to
>> sh=
>> ow him how near the would be assassin of a few nights before came to
>> "getti=
>> ng 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
>> fire=
>> d 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
>> citatio=
>> n.
>> Fred Shapiro
>> Editor
>> YALE BOOK OF QUOTATIONS (Yale University Press)
>> ------------------------------------------------------------
>> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

George A. Thompson
Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre", Northwestern
Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much since then.

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

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