The Uses And Abuses Of "Fuck"Nothing gets the highbrows blushing with illicit excitement faster than all the varied obscene uses of idiomatic speech. This Masterpiece Lecture on the history of the word "fuck" was presented in college linguistics classes. Harry Frankfurt's clever treatise On Bullshit became a minor bestseller, which wouldn't have happened if he'd written a pocket-sized critique on pure reason. All that stops Hector from feeling scandalized when Dorothy describes a boy as "cunt-struck" in the movie version of Alan Bennett's The History Boys is her indication that it's a compound adjective and Hector likes compound adjectives. Now psychologist Roy Baumeister continues down the path of sophisticated discussions of filthy words by asking, "[S]houldn't the adverb form be 'f**kingly?' As in, 'that was f**kingly ridiculous.'" Him first.
Let us turn now from form to content. What is the meaning of the adverb "f**king" or, by extension, "f**kingly?" Just how does something that is "f**king great" or "f**kingly ridiculous" differ from things that are great or ridiculous without reference to fornication? The dictionary on my laptop offers no definition, nor does its thesaurus have a synonym. Anecdotal impression suggests that it is often used as a synonym for "very." Something that is f**king ridiculous is somehow more ridiculous than something that is merely ridiculous, correct?
It's rather like damn, which can be both a degree of magnitude or a pejorative qualifier. "Damn right" can't even be turned into a gerund, however, and as an adverb, "damningly right" means something different. Though "damningly dirty apes" would put an interesting Biblical gloss on an age-old problem. Then there's Robert Conquest on another difficult word:
A usage that's seldom got right Is when to say shit and when shite, And many a chap Will fall back on crap, Which is vulgar, evasive, and trite.
How true. [Psychology Today]