What does the A in "Fucking A" mean?

Discussion in 'English Only' started by rajel, Nov 10, 2006.

  1. rajel

    rajel Junior Member

    Spanish, Mexico.
    I have heard the expression in American movies I understand it as a way to say "A huevo" in Mexican Spanish is it so?

    Mod edit - if this question were posted today it would need to be posted in the Spanish forums since we are strict on English only here in the English only forum both in questions and answers. However, since it is so old and contains useful information on the meaning of "fucking A" we'll leave it here. Please note that no Spanish should be used in the answers.

    timpeac (moderator).
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
  2. Old Novice

    Old Novice Senior Member

    Massachusetts
    USA, English
    In my experience, it's just an expression. The A has no meaning in itself.
     
  3. rajel

    rajel Junior Member

    Spanish, Mexico.
    could you tell me an example of usage?
     
  4. Old Novice

    Old Novice Senior Member

    Massachusetts
    USA, English
    It indicates a strong yes to a question or emphatic agreement with a statement, or at least did in the long-ago days of my youth. "Do you think we should hit the bars tonight?" "F__A!" "That girl is really hot!" "F__ A right she is!"
     
  5. Trina

    Trina Senior Member

    Sydney
    Australia (English)
    I can't believe I am replying to this thread. I am amazed and perhaps somewhat embarassed that I may know the answer ...

    There are two schools of thought:-

    1) "A" is short for "awesome"

    2) "A" stands for "affirmative" (as in the military response, "Affirmative, sir!")
     
  6. Old Novice

    Old Novice Senior Member

    Massachusetts
    USA, English
    Well, conceivably, Trina, but I was using "F__ A" 1-2 decades before "awesome" became anything other than a very rarely used word meaning "inspiring awe" (which happened sometime in the late 70s or early 80s, as I recall). :)
     
  7. Old Novice

    Old Novice Senior Member

    Massachusetts
    USA, English
    Number 2 might well be right. I was in the military in the mid-60s when I learned the phrase. But no one ever said "affirmative" instead of "A".
     
  8. Bil

    Bil Senior Member

    English USA
    Hi. You guys must live very sheltered lives :)—the 'a' stands for ass.
     
  9. rajel

    rajel Junior Member

    Spanish, Mexico.
    Ok thanks alot guys for the replies one of the times I heard the words fucking A is in the movie Apocalypse Now the character named Chef said it once to Cptn Willard and it was Indeed used in a military context in the late 60's thank you very much!
     
  10. . 1 Senior Member

    Ferntree Gully
    Australian Australia
    I was in the military in the mid 70s and Fucking A was well used among the Other Ranks but never to an Officer or a Sergeant unless you were a Corporal. The young Privates used it most often and were most often mildly rebuked by the Sergeant who quietly expalined the term to the Officer who obtained most of his military knowledge from the Sergeant.

    .,,
     
  11. Old Novice

    Old Novice Senior Member

    Massachusetts
    USA, English
    Well, Bil, again, this is conceivable, but I don't think it's very likely. :) Of course, in one sense it is no less arbitrary than the A's just standing for nothing at all, but it doesn't seem to conform to the way the phrase was used in my day (to indicate agreement). And the group I was in at the time certainly would have said the entire phrase from time to time if F___ Ass was what it really meant. So I guess I'd just ask why you think it stands for "ass"?
     
  12. rajel

    rajel Junior Member

    Spanish, Mexico.
    Sorry bil but I think I will stick with the other explanations because they make more sense. thanks anyway!
     
  13. Bil

    Bil Senior Member

    English USA
    Aside from being an expression that has a tendency to just naturally slip out when you stupidly hit your thumb with a hammer or wash your wallet by mistake in the washing machine, the term in its entire glory was used on the West Coast to express just about everything from absolute despair to total adoration during the sixties.

    For instance, before we all got drafted and sent to Vietnam where, rest assured, the term was not abbreviated to "f____ 'a'," now and every so often line after massive rolling line would appear on the ocean horizon, and sets of 15- to 20-foot waves would begin to pound at California's doorstep. As we stood with our surfboards next to our station wagons on the highway overlooking the point at Rincon, what expression of both fear and excitement do you think came out of each and every mouth in perfect unison? Yes, you guessed it—"F____n' a__!"

    And, Rajel, expressions that begin with words like "f____" are notoriously unhindered by logic. :) And we've also got to take into consideration that when the term was first inaugurated, even an allusion to 'scoring some' included that wonderfully ol' heartwarming morsel of clever phraseology, 'getting a piece of a__.' ;)
     
  14. veracity

    veracity Senior Member

    Hi,
    I was watching a film Deer Hunter. There I heard a phrase "fuckin' A".

    Axel kicked the cars back door open and said:

    - Fuckin' A.
    -What the fuck?
    -You know Axel, you got a terrific vocabulary!
    -Fuckin' A!
    -Hey watch the gear.


    A have found this link but seems difficult to understand.
    http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2077/whats-the-origin-of-fuckin-a

    How could you make it simpler for me to understand?

    Thanks.
     
  15. Linguist301 Senior Member

    Armenian & English
    Hi

    Briefly, the link explains that they think "Fucking A" generally means "yes indeed" and "absolutely correct", and that perhaps the origin of the "A" existed before World War II, and maybe stood for "affirmative".
     
  16. Cagey post mod

    California
    English - US
    Well, I hear "fuckin' A" most often as an exclamation of approval or agreement, but it also can be an interjection that is equivalent to a swear word. (These are the two possibilities discussed in your link.)

    I suspect it is being used as a swear word here, but it is hard to tell without more information about what is going on. Why is he kicking the doors open? Is he happy or angry? etc.
     
  17. Please note that the word beginning with 'f' here is extremely offensive to a very large proportion of English-speaking people.

    I cannot bring myself to type it out in full.

    Rover
     
  18. xebonyx

    xebonyx Senior Member

    TR/AR/EN
    "fuckin' a!" means "you're right about that/you bet!". But it can also mean "dammit!" , with the opposite expression of disappointment. For example: "Fuckin' a! I forgot her birthday!"
     
  19. Nymeria Senior Member

    Barbados
    English - Barbadian/British/educated in US universities blend
    Spent my college years in the northeast USA and I cannot recall hearing "fuckin' A" used as a positive exclamation. It was invariably used as a swear phrase to indicate anger or frustration.

    "Missed the exit again! Fuckin' A!"
    "Three assignments over Thanksgiving break! Fuckin' A!"

    So my automatic interpretation is that the individual is angry or upset. Couldn't you tell from the tone of voice/body language on the film?

    I'm not sure I agree cyberpendant. I mean, we college students ... um... and by "we", I meant "they"... :) had the pottiest of mouths, but I can't say "fuck" has lost its shock value entirely. We... um...they were still quite aware that they were cursing and that it was impolite. Had it truly lost it's shock value, it would be a regular in the classroom or in conversation with professors. So I agree that it has drecreased considerably, but not totally "lost" it.
     
  20. cycloneviv

    cycloneviv Senior Member

    Perth, Western Australia
    English - Australia
    I've always heard, or at least understood, this to be :warning:"fuckin' 'ey", with 'ey being an abbreviated hey.

    I've never stopped to wonder why, but now I come to think of it, could "hey" not simply be another "h" word substituted for "hell", in the manner of "flippin' heck"? On second thoughts, if we're going to use the "f" word, why would we not say "hell"? Hmm. Perhaps that's a rather implausible notion.

    In any case, "fuckin' 'ey" is used very often here in Australia, usually in a positive sense. In fact, I just said to my housemate "Fuckin' 'ey is usually positive here, isn't it?" and he said "Fuckin' 'ey!"

    Ah, we're a witty lot...

    EDIT: I've just noticed that the dreaded Urban Dictionary has this as "fuckin' 'eh".
     
    Last edited: Nov 30, 2008
  21. Nymeria Senior Member

    Barbados
    English - Barbadian/British/educated in US universities blend
    Really cycloneviv? Ahhh, the intricacies of swearing! :)

    I always it interpreted it as "Fuckin' A", assuming that the "A" was short for "ass" and its many derivatives... hole/wipe etc, and the two were combined for the sole purpose of making the swear that much stronger.
     
  22. ss-bb Junior Member

    Belgium
    Swedish
    As a swede I might not have any say in this, but when I lived in London I remember thinking that one used fucking A when something was good or correct, and fucking hell when something was the opposite. Was it just misinterpretation by a young immigrant, or is fucking hell used as well?

    I've always thought that the A stems from the grades in school, A being the highest.
     
  23. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    My take on this agrees with that of ss-bb. I, when growing up in New York City, always heard it as a synonym for "far out!"
    "You just got a raise!? Fuckin' A, man!"
     
  24. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    I've certainly heard it plenty, mainly in American films rather than Real Life. I never knew what the A represented until I read this thread. (I'm still not absolutely sure:D)
     
  25. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Well, I'll risk the unwarranted reaction that Bil got, and let you all in on the simple facts. "Yer fuckin A" stands for (you bet) "your fucking ass."

    I hate to be categorical, but it's as simple as that.

    "Are you sure?"
    "You bet your ass I'm sure."

    If it could ever be proved, I'd bet good money that "to bet your ass" has its origins in the distant past of prison slang. Like most seemingly figurative expressions, it once really meant something.

    One thing I do know for sure, there was a time when people said "you bet your fuckin ass"-- and the minced "fuckin A" abbreviation was unheard-of.
     
  26. mplsray Senior Member

    The following is from page 10 of Watch Your F*cking Language: How to Swear Effectively, Explained in Explicit Detail and Enhanced by Numerous Examples Taken From Everyday Life by Sterling Johnson "and a Distinguished Panel of Experts":

     
  27. audiolaik

    audiolaik Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    According to the Urban Dictionary, the expression has its roots in the military language (Fucking Affirmative).

    However, knowing how unreliable the source can be, one ought to treat it with a pinch of salt.

    Audiolaik
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2009
  28. mplsray Senior Member

    The Oxford English Dictionary's entry for fucking A ("DRAFT ENTRY June 2008") gives the etymology as:

    The sense of A in the cross-reference is to A used as a rating for excellent.
     
  29. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    For a lexicographer, "perhaps compare" is a resounding, "Well, maybe it is and maybe it ain't, but you may wish to consider this as a plausible explanation..."


    In my wastrel youth—1960s and beyond—I heard "Fuckin A!" and well as "Fuckin asshole!" and "Fuckin ass!" and the catchall commonplace, "Kanay!" The last one had a very strong emphasis on the final syllable. It was also the trademark for a greeting card company that had pictures and drawings you wouldn't send home to Mom.

    I've never heard "Fuckin affirmative" in or out of a military setting. I have heard the big, bad f word accompanied by ass and asshole. On the basis of that experience, and the weasel-worded "authoritative sources pointing at another possibility", I'm not persuaded that there is any logical or evidence-based reason to change my opinion:
    A=ass.

    That said, I also see no reason to exclude multiple meanings for the letter "A" in these terms. Canay, Kanay, Fuckin A and their ilk may have had many lives. When we see sound etymological proof that there is but one and only one "right answer", we can all join hands and yell...Far Fuckin Out, Man!
     
  30. Harry Batt

    Harry Batt Senior Member

    Minneapolis
    USA English
    Fuckin' A was used as a confirmation of an opinion as I learned it. 1936 Conversation in a group of 9 and 10 year old boys after stealing watermelons. "What do you think of Mxxxx?" Reply: "She's got PA?" Q "What's that?" Reply: Prick appeal. You're fuckin' A.
     
  31. ewie

    ewie Senior Member

    This septic isle!
    NW Englandish English
    The Cassell Dictionary of Slang (London, 1999) wisely avoids the etymological controversy by ... well, by simply not mentioning it:D

    The entry immediately following is as follows:
    My money's on 'abbreviation of Fucking Ada!' (No, not really.)
     
  32. Valkyrie517 Senior Member

    Washington DC
    American English
    Original Poster:

    This is correct. Fuckin' A! is a positive statement confirming what someone else has said. This is how it is normally used.

    Now, since the F-word is so malleable, people occasionally use it spontaneously to mean it positively or negatively.

    Nobody on this board seems to know conclusively where the expression came from.

    I can almost guarantee that "Fucking Ass" is not the answer, though.
     
  33. mplsray Senior Member

    Another opinion of the etymology of the expression can be found here. The author, Roland Grant, disputes both the hypothesis that the word comes from A used to represent an excellent rating and that A from ass, on the basis that the early cites of the word include no examples of the supposed long form from which fucking A was shortened. Furthermore, the early cites spell the second element of the expression as ay. Grant thinks the expression was an elaboration on the interjection ay!, now usually spelled eh!
     
  34. Thomas Tompion Senior Member

    Southwest France
    English - England
    This is all a bit puzzling for a foreigner. Like Ewie I remain unclear. Foxfirebrand is amusingly certain, you bet, that A means ass. Others seem to think it means affirmative or asshole. Harry says it's used as a confirmation of an opinion, but I couldn't construe it as being definitely that in the example he gives:

    Q: What's that?
    A: Prick Appeal. You're fuckin' A.

    Does You're fuckin' A mean unequivocally in this example take my word for it, rest assured, you bet your ass? I couldn't be quite sure.

    The dictionaries seem to be in similar disarray and even Sterling Johnson and his distinguished panel of experts (I was pleased to find that the book is on sale for $0.64, used, on the internet) cast no light on the mystery with its suggestion that one could be at fucking A. If A does mean asshole then that carries pejorative force, which is not matched by ass surely.

    You can bet your ass, as I see it, but not your asshole.

    Could fuckin' asshole really come to mean rest assured? By what convoluted route, I wonder.

    The conclusion I draw is that the expression is widely used in conflicting ways. That's rather a disappointing conclusion for a student of language. I feel we ought to be doing better than that.
     
  35. xebonyx

    xebonyx Senior Member

    TR/AR/EN
    I think it's been noted that it has several definitions, at least.


    While I agree with the poster who said "it can't mean asshole", that doesn't mean that the other person(s) may have not encountered it in limited experiences.

    Basically, "that's right, my friend", etc.

    It all depends on context. Also notice how the speaker added "you're" here, at the beginning of the phrase. That changes the meaning.

    I would suppose that user or users who suggested may have come across it in that sense in their own limited experiences, especially since it's been the minority vote of the meaning.

    Sorry, but that kind of comes across as somewhat rude.

    I think others who haven't understood the meaning are over thinking it a bit, but American English speakers shouldn't be held at fault for that. I feel we've already said that it can mean the following, depending on context:

    1. That's right/affirmative!
    2. Great!
    3. Dammit

    English slang is also highly variant, since it's slang. I guess that's all I wanted to add.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
  36. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    That is certainly worth repeating. The arguments in favor of any one etymology, to the exclusion of all others, are not persuasive.


    I trust the writer of those sage words will acknowledge his or her own limited experience, and not be too quick to discard the experience of others.

    Yes, there are those who have experienced it to have those meanings. Others have had additional experiences with the expression, and thus have additional interpretations.
     
  37. xebonyx

    xebonyx Senior Member

    TR/AR/EN
    Precisely, but the argument is over what the real meaning is, and there are usually some are common in usage and familiarity than others.
    That's how many of the threads have always been. Anyway, I'm not discarding anything(*I even said that in the last post), but I feel like valid points have been made regarding the definition of "fuckin' a" where we've been able to at least draw some conclusions.
     
  38. wonderwhy Senior Member

    English - NaE

    Fucking aye!
     
  39. cuchuflete

    cuchuflete Senior Member

    Maine, EEUU
    EEUU-inglés
    Another country heard from:
    source:
    Totally awesome 80s: a lexicon of the music, videos, movies, TV shows, stars ... By Matthew Rettenmund

    http://books.google.com/books?id=Q7rELTyAeAsC&pg=PT43&dq=angry+%22fuckin+A!%22&lr=&as_drrb_is=q&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=&as_brr=0#v=onepage&q=angry%20%22fuckin%20A!%22&f=false

    No sign of affirmation here:

    Jinn: A Novel
    By Matthew B. J. Delaney
    http://books.google.com/books?id=gVrTQRVQgxUC&pg=PA250&dq=angry+%22fuckin+A!%22&lr=&as_drrb_is=q&as_minm_is=0&as_miny_is=&as_maxm_is=0&as_maxy_is=&as_brr=0#v=onepage&q=angry%20%22fuckin%20A!%22&f=false

    This doesn't seem to suggest agreement or approval:

    The Pig and I By Rachel Toor
    http://books.google.com/books?id=K9...s_brr=0#v=onepage&q=angry "fuckin A!"&f=false
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2009
  40. Spineripper New Member

    English - Ireland
    With previous posts not having dedicated factual historical references, my guess is that the letter "A" is for the 1st initial in "Ace" as in "Fuckin' Ace", deriving from American Hippies and high school kids in the 60s and incorporated by all leagues and societies of Americans and eventually, through cinema, to many other English speaking countries. I don't have much support for this but the terms "Fuckin' Affirmative" and "Fuckin' Ass" are not very renowned expressions whereas the primary term is.
     
    Last edited: Dec 3, 2010
  41. 3819 New Member

    English-International
    It stands for "apple" -- this goes back to the Garden of Eden:

    God: "Yer in deep shit"
    Adam: "What did we do?"
    Eve: "I had no idea the apple was a controlled substance . . ."
    Snake: "It is, but . . ."
    Adam: "An apple? A fucking apple?"
    Eve: "Fucking A!"
     
  42. Earle the Viking Junior Member

    Colombia, South America
    Ænglish Angle Viking American (Canada)
    FUckin A comes from fucking aye! aye is an affirmative word used in Canada in our lovely court houses to say Yes in votes and nay in the negative... it infers agreement!

    so therefore do we say in Canada after our stentences aye? could be spelled out as eh, ay, aye, ey, it´s all the sam thing aye! and oh yeah,

    Fuckin aye!

    Fucking A for those that don´t know the true meaning of the word and origin!

    S.L. Earle
     

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