The comparison “X as fuck,” as Jesse Sheidlower tells us in The F Word (soon to be updated!), has appeared in print since at least 1978. [UPDATE: 1970! See Jesse’s comment, below.] By 2010 or so, the abbreviation “AF”—as in “elegant as fuck”—had begun cropping up in public settings, especially Twitter. When I first wrote about it in 2015, AF was still pretty much under the radar commercially, relegated to Etsy jewelers and festival T-shirts, but over the next few years it began going mainstream. In my most recent post on the subject, from July 2019, I noted that a product called Down There Wipes was being sold at Target with the prominently displayed slogan “FRESH AF.”
AF was one thing. Surely, though (I said to myself), the spelled-out “As Fuck” would never appear on supermarket shelves.
In the two years since I first wrote about seeing “AF” — the abbreviation for the intensifier “as fuck” — in various interesting places, I’ve kept track of its spread from the fringes to the mainstream, or at least a major tributary of the mainstream, of popular culture. In April of this year, when I noted its use in New York subway advertisements by the food-delivery service FoodKick, I speculated that this was the first time AF had appeared in a commercial context. Well, I was wrong. It wasn’t the first. And it certainly hasn’t been the last.