That screwing thing

When we say “We’ve been screwed”, “You screwed me (up)”, “This screwed up kid”, “A major screw up”, where the term fucked can easily be substituted, why is this a bad thing? (There are many, I guess, who would disagree :slight_smile: ) Puritanical remnants?

And why is it always “up”, and never “down”, or at least sideways…?

Omni, maybe a Texas thing but I have heard 'screwed sideways ’ frequently. Not as all screwed up.It is “got screwed” double damn good.

Yeah. Basically, it’s a variation on a minced oath. The word “screw” is slightly more acceptable in society than the word “fuck” so it was substituted in situations where someone wanted to be emphatic without being thrown out of the house. After a while, “screw” came to mean “messed up” all on its own, simply because of the heavy usage. The same thing happened to “suck.” I can remember when it would not have been permissible for a child/teen to use either word in certain company.


I think ‘screwed up’ came first and led to ‘EFed up’. Screw being used in the sense of mixed or crazy. “your screwy,Louie” “Screwed up mess” “This box of screws is all screwded up,all diferent sizes.” Since there was a connection between screw and Ef Ef got used in place of screw in mixed up. “Yore Efed in the head ,Fred”. in the other sense, " Uhoh,we’re Efed,the pin fell out of this grenade" The transition is simpler both words being the same with, to me any way ,being ‘Efed Up’ is more serious than being ‘screwed up’
“Uhoh, we’re screwed this fahr craker fuse done been lit up.”

{{{Omni, maybe a Texas thing, but I have heard ‘screwed sideways’ frequently. Not as all screwed up. It is “got screwed” double damn good.}}}—Mr John

As a kid, we used “S/he got (f’ed) over backwards,” as the ultimate indicator of situational injustice.

(The Original EnigmaOne)

So the question is did screw come before f#ck or the other way around as a way of saying something had gone amiss? Also back when f#ck got started was all carnal knowledge unlawful or just some of it?

F*CK used to be a perfectly respectable Anglo Saxon word. Then the Normans showed up with all there lahdeedah Latin influenced French.Anglo Saxon in general became crass.There are a lot of carnal knowledge legal and otherwise type threads over in great debates and bbq. Carnalvore:One who eats carnival workers.Undisclosed knowledge of which is highly illegal.
I 'll get some citatons on screwed up being around a long time. Dang, funnee, ain’t the fish police got you yet? I called um an hour ago.

Is there any connection to the phrase “screwball”? I think originally there really was a special kind of baseball pitch called a “screwball”, an illegal or trick pitch that caused the ball to travel erraticly. The phrase screwball then went on to mean anything strange, not on the up and up, etc.

There’s also the (mostly) British usage meaning “twisted together”:

“He screwed up the paper and tossed it away.”

That’s probably from the resemblance of the resulting lump to (right- or left-handed) screw threads, rather than sex, but I wonder if this version might have been first (WAG, of course).

Bob the Random Expert
“If we don’t have the answer, we’ll make one up.”

I think you’re right on the money, Lumpy. (Why does that phrase bring great satisfaction to type??)

“Screwball” and “screwy” I think just meant weird (as in “that boy ain’t right”). You wouldn’t have seen it used so often in the 1930s for “screwball” comedies by major film studios, or even by Warner Bros in some of their cartoons.

There was a phrase in use in naval circles in the 30s and 40s: “Screwed, blued, and tatooed”, referring to a great leave ashore.

Ever hear of a thesaurus? The two words can be interchanged:

1fuck "fek\ verb [akin to D fokken to breed (cattle), Sw dial. fokka to copulate] (15c)
verb intransitive
1 : copulate — usu. considered obscene — sometimes used in the present participle as a meaningless intensive
2 : mess 3 — used with with — usu. considered vulgar
verb transitive
1 : to engage in coitus with — usu. considered obscene — sometimes used interjectionally with an object (as a personal or reflexive pronoun) to express anger, contempt, or disgust
2 : to deal with unfairly or harshly : cheat, screw — usu. considered vulgar

©1996 Zane Publishing, Inc. and Merriam-Webster, Incorporated. All rights reserved.

My favorite phrase these days is: I’ve been “screwed and tattooed by the big burly bastards of big business.” :wink:

“I hope life isn’t a big joke, because I don’t get it,” Jack Handy

The OED dates “screw” as copulate to around 1725. It dates both screw up and fuck up to the early 1940’s with the notation on screw up, “This use may have originated as a euphemism for to fuck up.” from the sense of copulating.

I don’t know that one or the other had to have come first. Once the idea had hit the language, they would certainly be interchangeable terms.

Screwball probably is a bit older. “Screw” as a term for a ball that is hard to hit because of characteristics of its spin dates to 1840.


Boy you people really know how to take the fun out of an expletive.