[Ads-l] to fuck

Ben Zimmer bgzimmer at GMAIL.COM
Mon Jan 11 17:35:03 EST 2021


Here's one data point that might support the perspective of Jesse's young
informant. Intransitive "fuck" showed up on HBO's "Silicon Valley" about
five years ago -- the Russ Hanneman character liked to say, "This guy
fucks!"

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_uMEE7eaaUA

It's easy to see how the sexual sense could give way to the general
approbative sense.

--Ben

On Mon, Jan 11, 2021 at 5:26 PM Jesse Sheidlower <jester at panix.com> wrote:

> A 21-year-old informant told me unhesitatingly that this derives from
> expressions like _he fucks_ 'he has frequent sexual intercourse', used in
> an approving way, i.e. 'he is cool, he is knowledgeable or experienced'.
> This informant said further, and unprompted, that this is also used
> identically of women, i.e. _she fucks_, also used positively, with no
> suggestion of disapproval for a woman's sexual behavior.
>
> When I first heard the positive _fuck_ we're discussing, I assumed it was
> of a family with words like _rock_ and _bang_, as Ben said, and I'm not
> claiming that my informant is correct about its semantic development; I'm
> just relating what a user of this form thinks.
>
> Separately, I'd mention the use of positive _fuck with_ 'to associate
> with; (hence) to like, to appreciate'. In a previous (offlist) discussion
> with Ben Zimmer he pointed me to the Wiktionary page, which has evidence
> for this from 2005 onwards:
>
> https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/fuck_with
>
> Jesse Sheidlower
>
> On Mon, Jan 11, 2021 at 04:59:30PM -0500, Ben Zimmer wrote:
> > It should be noted that "fuck" is following a pattern of intransitive
> verbs
> > evidently modeled on "rock" -- see OED3 sense 10b for "rock, v.1" ("Of
> > popular music: to possess a fast, vigorous rhythm with a strong beat; to
> > exhibit the energy and drive characteristic of such music") and 10d ("To
> be
> > full of energy, life, and excitement; to be excellent"). Other forceful
> > verbs that fit the pattern these days are "bang," "slap," "whip," and
> > "kick" -- you can find many examples of the form "This/that song slaps."
> > ("Whip/kick" could be thought of as short for "whip/kick ass.")
> >
> > Searching on Twitter readily uncovers many creative variations on the
> > theme, e.g. this tweet from today:
> >
> > https://twitter.com/jeanlucpeakhard/status/1348748442865074181
> > i got no real opinion on lana del rey cause, i mean i'm not a gay guy,
> but
> > "video games" fucks. that song GETS laid. that's all i got.
> >
> > --bgz
> >
> > On Mon, Jan 11, 2021 at 12:10 PM Jonathan Lighter <
> wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
> > wrote:
> >
> > > Just remember it took only 1,500 years for English to get this far!
> > >
> > > Think of the next 1,500!
> > >
> > > JL
> > >
> > > On Mon, Jan 11, 2021 at 11:48 AM Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu
> >
> > > wrote:
> > >
> > > > So we have the antonymy between intransitive “fuck” and intransitive
> > > > “suck” (on the relevant figurative senses) and the
> antilogy/enantionymy
> > > of
> > > > “fuck” itself, between the pejorative transitive imperative (“Fuck
> that
> > > > song!”) and the ameliorative intransitive (“That song fucks!”).  Is
> this
> > > a
> > > > great language or what.
> > > >
> > > > LH
> > > >
> > > > > On Jan 11, 2021, at 3:33 AM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > > > >
> > > > > A quick Twitter search reveals countless examples of "this/that
> song
> > > > fucks
> > > > > (so hard)." Earliest I see is from 2013:
> > > > >
> > > > > https://twitter.com/_TheLeader/status/366810062347452416
> > > > > @LadyGaga that song is so fucking awesome, pounding beats, this
> song
> > > > fucks
> > > > > so hard!
> > > > > 2:35 AM · Aug 12, 2013
> > > > >
> > > > >
> > > > > On Mon, Jan 11, 2021 at 2:44 AM Mark Mandel <markamandel at gmail.com
> >
> > > > wrote:
> > > > >
> > > > >> How reliable is a sole example from a humorous program?
> > > > >>
> > > > >> MAM
> > > > >>
> > > > >> On Sun, Jan 10, 2021, 7:50 AM Jonathan Lighter <
> > > wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com>
> > > > >> wrote:
> > > > >>
> > > > >>> 'To be very pleasing.'  Ant.: suck.
> > > > >>>
> > > > >>> 2020 _Last Week Tonight_ (HBO TV) (March 1): That song fucks!
> That
> > > song
> > > > >>> fucks so hard!
> > > > >>>
> > > > >>>
>

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