Fart is an English language vulgarism most commonly used in reference to flatulence. The word "fart" is generally considered unsuitable in a formal environment by modern English speakers, and it may be considered vulgar or offensive in some situations. Fart can be used as a noun or a verb. The immediate roots are in the Middle English words ferten, feortan or farten; which is akin to the Old High German word ferzan. Other roots lie in old Norse, Greek and Sanskrit. The word "fart" has been incorporated into the colloquial and technical speech of a number of occupations, including computing.
Fart is sometimes used as a nonspecific derogatory epithet, often to refer to 'an irritating or foolish person', and potentially an elderly person, described as an 'old fart'. This may be taken as an insult when used in the second or third person, but can potentially be a term of endearment, or an example of self deprecatory humour when used in the first person. The phrase 'boring old fart' was popularised in the UK in the late 1970s by the New Musical Express while chronicling the rise of punk. It was used to describe hippies and establishment figures in the music industry, forces of inertia against the new music.
In certain circles the word is considered merely a common profanity with an often humorous connotation. For example, a person may be referred to as a 'fart', or an 'old fart', not necessarily depending on the person's age. This may convey the sense that a person is overly boring or fussy and be intended as an insult, mainly when used in the second or third person. For example '"he's a boring old fart!" However the word may be used as a colloquial term of endearment or a in an attempt at humorous self-deprecation, (e.g., in such phrases as "I know I'm just an old fart" or "you do like to fart about!"). 'Fart' is often only used as a term of endearment when the subject is personally well known to the user. In both cases though, it tends to refer to personal habits or traits that the user considers to be a negative feature of the subject, even when it is a self-reference. For example, when concerned that a person is being overly methodical they might say 'I know I'm being an old fart', potentially to forestall negative thoughts and opinions in other. When used in an attempt to be offensive, the word is still considered vulgar, but it remains a mild example of such an insult. This usage dates back to the Medieval period, where the phrase 'not worth a fart' would be applied to a item held to be worthless.
The word fart was in pre-modern times not considered especially vulgar and could often be encountered in literary works. Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1755, included the word. Johnson defined it with two poems, one by Jonathan Swift, the other by Sir John Suckling. In 1607, a group of Members of Parliament had written a ribald poem entitled The Parliament Fart, as a symbolic protest against the conservatism of the House of Lords and the king, James I.
Cockney rhyming slang developed the alternative form 'Raspberry Tart', later shortened to 'Raspberry', and occasionally 'Razz'. This was associated with the phrase 'blowing a raspberry'. The word has become more prevalent, and now features in children's literature, such as the Walter the Farting Dog series of children's books, Robert Munsch's Good Families Don't and The Gas We Pass by Shinta Cho. Teachers in American schools have been encouraged to use books about farts to make children more comfortable with the word.