October 13, 2012

My dad had to move to much smaller digs and as a result I ended up with his 1971 copy of the Oxford English Dictionary –the micrographed one in two volumes that comes with a magnifying glass so you can read the text. I went through it pretty thoroughly back in the day, but I haven’t really opened it since I brought it home a few months ago, so today I decided to take a look.

Being only 56 years old, naturally the very first word I looked up was Fuck. The OED had no entry for Fuck; but the lesson I learned from this disappointment was that almost any word that starts “F-U” is inherently funny. There is no Fuck, but right where it should be there are Fucaceous, Fucal, Fucate, and Fucatory, all having to do with either face painting or a lichen. Then fuchsia of course, and then Fuchsine, Fuchsite, Fucivarous, Fucoidal, Fucose, and Fucus, before passing mercifully on to Fud. Before that we have Fuage (hearth tax), Fub and Fubbery (to cheat and cheating), Fubb or Fubble (a fat person) and its forms Fubby, Fubsical and Fubsy. The page headings are Fry Fucal Fucate Fuddle Fuddle Fuff Fuff Fugitation. Not until it reaches Fugue does the dictionary regain some measure of its dignity.