Fuckebythenavele: Historians uncover oldest known use of the F-word in 1310 court records
A British historian believes he has found the earliest recorded use of the F-word, a swearword of Anglo-Saxon origin, where its meaning has a sexual connotation. The word was found in court records dating back to 1310, in relation to a man named Roger Fuckebythenavele.
The written record of the swearword was found accidentally by Dr Paul Booth, a historian at Keele University in England, while he was examining a court case held in the County court of Chester in which a man named Roger Fuckebythenavel was outlawed on 28 September, 1311. It appears that Roger did not hold an unfortunate family name, but had been given the name derogatorily for apparently being an incompetent copulator.
“Either it refers to an inexperienced copulator, referring to someone trying to have sex with the navel, or it’s a rather extravagant explanation for a dimwit, someone so stupid they think that this is the way to have sex,” Dr Booth told Mailonline.
Dr Paul Booth discovered the name ‘Roger Fuckebythenavele’ while examining Chester county court records during research on Edward II. Credit: Paul Booth / Academia .
Booth noted that Roger had to appear before the court three times between September 1310 and May 1311, and each time his last name was spelled differently: Fuckebythenavele, Fukkebythenavele, and Fuckebythenavel. This suggests it was not his actual surname, but was given to him as a nickname.
At his final court appearance, Roger was “outlawed”, suggesting he was executed as an outlaw could be executed without trial if caught.
Booth said that the significance of the record is that it is possibly “the earliest known use of the word “f***” that clearly has a sexual connotation.”
Prior to Booth’s discovery, the earliest known written example of the F-word was found in a 1475 poem called “Flen flyys”, written in a mix of Latin and English. The relevant line reads “fvccant vvivys of heli”, which can be translated to “they f*** the wives of Ely”. The earliest known use of the word in the English language is in a 1528 manuscript by Cicero in which a monk scribbled the words “O d fuckin Abbot” in the margins.
Prior to Booth’s discovery the earliest known use of the F-word in English was scribbled by a monk in the margin of a manuscript by Cicero. Credit: Wikipedia.
Dr Booth has written to Oxford English dictionary to report his finding so that they update their records regarding the origin of the swearword, however, they are yet to respond.
Featured Image: Chester country court record showing use of the name ‘Roger Fuckebythenavele’. Credit: Crown copyright, published with approval of Her Majesty’s Stationary Office.