The Origins Of "Fokk" - The Reykjavik Grapevine

The Origins Of “Fokk”

Published January 28, 2016

Photo by
RÚV

The Icelandic word “fokk” is used much like its English equivalent, but that was not always the case, research has shown.

Anyone familiar with colloquial Icelandic is likely aware that Icelanders like to use the word “fokk”, which is used in much the same way Anglophones use “fuck”. Variants of this can include “fokkaðu þér” (fuck you), “fokkaður” (the condition of being fucked, in the sense of broken or ruined), or simply “fokk” as an exclamation.

Fokk is seldom used to describe the act of sexual intercourse, but it does pepper the language as a casual swear word that does not carry the same taboo status as the English equivalent. RÚV reports that Einar Lövdahl Gunnlaugsson sought to investigate the origins of this word, and his results are surprising.

In his research paper on the subject, “Hvað í fokkanum geri ég þegar ég útskrifast?” (“What the fuck am I going to do after I graduate?”), Einar discovered that the use of “fokk” the way English-speakers use it first gained public prominence in Iceland in 1982. However, the first appearance of the word actually goes back to the 17th century, and had a more flexible meaning back then. At that time, “fokk” could also mean to dawdle, tarry, or waste time.

Below you can see a clip from RÚV’s New Year’s Eve 2008 sketch comedy show, Áramótaskaupið, which perfectly encapsulates the Icelandic relationship with “fokk.”

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