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'The F Word': A lexicographer drops his third F bomb and Lewis Black joins the fun

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the-f-word_lSince there’s no delicate way to introduce the word at the center of Jesse Sheidlower‘s funny, yet surprisingly informative book, I’ll leave it to A Christmas Story‘s Ralphie Parker (Peter Billingsley): “The word. The big one. The queen mother of dirty words. The F, dash, dash, dash word.” Yes, the infamous expletive that earned Ralphie a mouthful of soap has yielded an entire book.

The F Word is an encyclopedia for all things, well, f***ed. Sheidlower, an editor at large at the Oxford English Dictionary, writes about the history of the word as well as the origin of its many, many variations. Now in its third edition (the first appeared in 1995), the book boasts a new foreword by comedian and frequent F-bomb dropper Lewis Black plus more than 120 new entries, including detailed definitions for skullf***, f***hole, and Sheidlower’s personal favorite, the TV-born euphemism frak. “I’m a Battlestar Gallactica fan,” he explains. Not only did the word re-appear in the recent Sci Fi series, he says, but it also made its way on to the past season of 30 Rock. “So I’m very happy to be able to get that in,” he says.

Tracking F-bombs is a never-ending task for Sheidlower. “I already have things that I missed or improvements lined up,” he says. “As time goes on, the word has become less unacceptable and less shocking, but at the same time, that means that there’s more scope for even more variations.” But it’s not the only taboo word on Sheidlower’s radar. “I do think that sh** is an extremely interesting word,” he says. “If anything, there are probably as many, if not more, phrases and proverbial type things with sh**.”

What do you think, Shelf Lifers? Does Sheidlower’s The F Word pique your interest or would you have too difficult a time suppressing the giggles? Has the notorious word expanded your flowery vocabulary, or just gotten you into a mess of trouble? Let us know — but remember, keep it clean!