Motherfucker

Motherfucker

[muhth-er-fuhk-er]
Motherfucker (also existing in countless contracted forms e.g. mofo, muthafucka, or shortened to just "mother") is a common insult and profanity in American English and in other varieties of the English language. The term, widely viewed as an obscenity, may be used by some in a neutral, or even positive way. (The term can be used to describe somebody as a moron, an idiot or backstabber.) The term is literally an accusation of incest, although as with most insults, it is used pejoratively. When used in this way specifically in relation to a man, it may be intended as an attack on his masculinity. It can also mean, though usually only with bad, a man who is physically threatening, or highly skilled in fighting, or espionage or other activities, especially where there is competition or high stakes involved. For example "the NSA are some bad mofos". The reason for its use in music derives from jazz, though in jazz it is not pervasive. Many consider "Motherfucker" to be one of the most offensive profanities in the English language. A study published in 2000 found that British people consider it second only to "cunt" in severity.

In the 1960s and 1970s, the initials M.F. became a common, less explicit substitute for the term. It is also another way to say bitch, of the meaning about a difficult situation.

Origins

The term and its congeners are originally North American slang, whence it spread to other varieties of English. The earliest record of the noun "motherfucker" dates back to 1918. All other senses and forms are also first recorded in the 20th century. For example, "Jim Stevens, you motherfucker!" (Oxford English Dictionary; online version)

The literal meaning of this word is "one who engages in sexual intercourse with his mother". It could also mean "one who engages in sexual intercourse with someone else's mother, a friend's mother, or a girlfriend's mother". It can be used as a taunt or crude insult, as in sleeping with another person's mother. It can also be used to call someone a mama's boy. Since the meaning is so offensive, this word is mostly used during crude arguments.

Uses in popular culture

The term is frequently used in pop culture, appearing over 200 times each in the films Menace II Society, GoodFellas, and Pulp Fiction.

Martha Wainwright's album "Bloody Mother Fucking Asshole" uses the adjectival form of the phrase both literally (as being about the one who had sex with her mother) and pejoratively to disparage the parenting abilities of her father, Loudon Wainwright III.

The word appears in George Carlin's Seven Words You Can't Say On Television. In one HBO special, he comments that at one point, someone asked him to remove it, since, as a derivative of the word "fuck," it constituted a duplication. He has since added it back, claiming that the bit's rhythm doesn't work without it.

References

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