Merriam-Webster.com describes the ‘F’ word as “usually vulgar.” What’s that? I smell a loophole! But who should decide in what context the ‘F’ word is or is not vulgar? I don’t see any reason that it shouldn’t be me.
Let’s start with the uses I think are vulgar. Sadly, the closest use to its original meaning I must declare vulgar. Sorry, language purists. In the early 1500’s it may have been acceptable for the Dutch to use “fokken” when discussing cattle breeding, but please don’t use its derivative to talk about your physical relationships. No one wants to be talked about like that. Vulgar.
Also in the vulgar category, using the word to insult or threaten. (He’s a bleepin’ idiot, Get the bleep out of my face, or simply Bleep you.) “Now wait just a minute,” the ‘F’ word protests. “Insulting and threatening are inappropriate with or without me.” Good point, ‘F’ word.
Next, excessive use. Get a vocabulary, people. Save it for when it really matters, so that it makes an impact, like when I wrote the Facebook status “How many bleeping times have I hit my bleeping head on the corner of that bleeping shelf?” My church friends thought my account had been hacked. Very enjoyable.
Now, how can we use the ‘F’ word so that it is not vulgar? Well, see my above Facebook status. I used it to describe objects that could not take offense. Also, when I hit my head, I could have yelled out BLEEEEEP. It’s only four letters, after all. Really no different than yelling out FRANKENSTEIIIIIIN! (Note to self, Frankenstein makes a pretty good expletive.)
Unfortunately, since this guide is only now being published, not everyone will have heard that the ‘F’ word is not vulgar in certain instances. Therefore, you might want to avoid using it around children, for instance on a playground. You don’t want to get them in trouble if their teachers haven’t gotten the memo. Or you could carry copies of this guide to hand out to parents and children at the park, and they could pass them on to the teachers. Think of the freedom and joy you’ll be spreading. The kids will welcome an excuse to use the ‘F’ word, and the parents will be relieved that their past ‘F’ word slip-ups maybe weren’t so bleeping vulgar after all.