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Life, the universe, and etymology: Cuckold

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Life, the Universe, Etymology

One of the latest contributions to the national dialogue has been the addition of the colorful insults “cuck” and “libcuck,” usually applied derisively to progressives and their ideologies by conservatives, especially the outspoken group that has been labeled the alt-right.

For example, the top Urban Dictionary definition for “cuck” is a mockery of YouTube user Onision, reading: “Another name for the great ‘Onision’ leader of the cuckolds. In the cuck fashion, Onision is a liberal feminazi vegetarian only he has millions of followers from all around the world. All bow before the cuck king, Onision, lots [sic] of the cuckold empire.”

The above definition has been submitted to Urban Dictionary more than 500 times. It’s not until page 75 of 88 until a definition reminiscent of the actual meaning is found, complete with more conservative name-calling and insults.

That definition is “Another word used to define a white liberal vegan prick who gets off on watching his girlfriend get f---ed by another guy/girl.”

“Cuck” is a shortening of “cuckold,” “[a] derisive name for the husband of an unfaithful wife,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Generally, a cuckold refers to a man who is not aware of his wife’s infidelities, and the word itself derives from behaviors of the cuckoo bird.

The cuckoo bird is a brood parasite, meaning it takes advantage of other birds’ nests to lay its eggs, tricking the “cuckolded,” non-cuckoo bird into raising their young. Usually, the cuckoo hatches sooner and grows faster than its “brood mates,” often forcing them out of the nest to their deaths.

“Cuckold” is an older word than I expected, dating to the mid-13th century, formed from Old French cocu “cuckoo” and -ault, a pejorative suffix; something like how “-tard” can be used in English to form insults like “libtard.” 

Cuckoldry is mentioned often in Shakespeare’s works, especially “Love’s Labours Lost,” and cuckolded men are often said to be “wearing the horns,” a phrase that is said to be derived from stags, who lose their antlers when they lose to another male.

Historically, the man is not involved, but “cuckold” has shifted to include the fetish where the man is complicit in his wife’s behavior, often watching, but not participating. The inverse fetish exists, and is known as “cuckqueaning.” 

It is this sense that makes cuckoldry an effective insult in the eyes of the right. 

As part of a consensual relationship, cuckolding is no less legitimate of a sexual choice than heterosexual sex or choosing to remain a virgin until marriage. However, watching your wife have sex with another man is an affront to “family values” and therefore unacceptable in the eyes of the right.

For conservatives, family values are so intricately tied to the idea of American-ness that calling someone a cuckold is not only an implication of a lack of sexual virility, but a direct attack on their patriotism. 

This is one of the reasons people who use “cuck” come off as so smug: Calling someone a “cuck” is dismissing them as non-American, and therefore unqualified to participate in the conversation at hand.

Whether most liberals actually care about being perceived as patriotic remains to be seen.

Reach Special Sections Editor Trevor McAllister-Day at opinion@dailyuw.com. Twitter: @TrevorMcDay

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