Manitoba in February is colder than this

It is often said that the most versatile word in the English language, despite its utter lack of suitability for polite conversation, has only four letters, the first of which is an F. I’m not sure I buy that, but it’s a word that I’m not particularly uncomfortable overusing.

That said, a ridiculous idea popped into my head yesterday: how hard would it be to come up with a complete 30-item Jeopardy! board in which every single correct question contained some variation of that word? You couldn’t actually play it, of course: apart from taste considerations, any player who demonstrated enough smarts to get on the show in the first place would figure out the pattern about halfway through the second answer, and then it would simply be a Fastest On The Buzzer game. Still, there’s that whole versatility thing, which occurred to me while I was reading some unfortunate prognostication for next week that included the dreaded phrase “polar vortex,” a term describing a condition some people apparently believe simply did not exist before 2013. (“These individuals are dumber than this.”)

And you know, both these weather-related examples work just as well with the, um, S-word.


  1. McGehee »

    7 November 2014 · 6:56 pm


  2. CGHill »

    8 November 2014 · 10:10 pm

    We’ll have none of that kind of language here, young fellow.

  3. Roger Green »

    9 November 2014 · 4:34 am

    The JEOPARDY! folks have actually done categories with 4 of the 5 answers being the same word, or at least pronunciation.

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