Up against the wall, mother-fugger

As much as the youthful Norman Mailer may have enjoyed inflating his self-image by inundating friend and foe with a superheated geyser of “fucks,” his favorite word wasn’t acceptable for the printed page in 1948. The disgruntled (read “pissed-off”) Mailer was forced to substitute the word “fug” for “fuck” in his gritty war novel The Naked and the Dead. The story goes that this prompted the waggish starlet Tallulah Bankhead to say upon first meeting Mailer, “So you’re the young man who can’t spell fuck.” If Mailer never wanted to see—or say—another “fug” in his life, there was a counter-culture rock group that thought the euphemism was the ideal name to have to “stick it to” the establishment of the 1960s.

Enter The Fugs. Continue reading

You must be piss-taken

It wasn’t too long ago that I began to notice speakers of British English (BrE) using various forms of “taking the piss.” This is a most curious expression and even in context the meaning is not readily apparent if you are unfamiliar with it. Does it mean “to be offended” or maybe “over the top”?

But recently I saw an American speaker use it in a mainstream publication, so if it’s becoming a Transatlantic crossover, we need to chase it down.

Here are a few examples spotted in the wild:

1 I was alive when Ibrahomvic took the piss out of England.

2 Beware of Gary—He will take the piss and make you laugh …

3 United Nations take the piss out of the Beatles with new reissue.

4 Do you notice when people take the piss out of you or try to mess with you?

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Something from nothing: a “zero-fucks” game

Some months back on the blog, Stephen Chrisomalis counted how many swears we can give. Quite a lot, it turns out. We can give a fuck. We can give two fucks. We can even give a million fucks. We can especially give three fucks, based on Stephen’s numbers. And this doesn’t even begin to account for all the shit’s and damn’s we can give – or, really, don’t give. See, when it comes to giving a fuck, we’re ultimately playing a zero-fucks game.

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