Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
What is a fuccboi?
To winnow down the sea of answers that the internet provides for this question, I will start with the authoritative repository for all slang word definitions. Fuccboi, also stylized as “fuccb0i” or “fuqboi,” got its first Urban Dictionary entry in December 2004 as “A person who is a weak ass pussy that ain’t about shit.”
Definitions, however, evolve. The second entry from September 2014 describes the archetypal fuccboi by attire and behavior. The definition is noticeably longer and has more precise qualifications, including trashy sartorial choices accompanied by perverse misogyny.
Regarding the appearances of the fuccboi, the label should not be confused with “basic” or “hypebeast.” “Basic” means unsophisticated or incredibly ordinary (think UGGs or Lululemon), while “hypebeast” refers to sneakerheads decked in urban wear solely for the purposes of impressing others (think Diamond Supply Co. or Supreme). The fuccboi uniform (snapback, wifebeater, joggers, Nike tube socks, Adidas sandals) is a byproduct of his behavior.
To understand the first definition, a more etymological approach is needed. The Wesleyan Argus argues that “fuccboi” comes from African American Vernacular English (AAVE) and was frequented by rap artists since 2002; the misogynistic and homophobic undertones of this word may have stemmed from this usage.
According to this tumblr post, the AAVE definition is “a person (most often a man) that ain’t shit.” Articles fixated on the word’s underlying misogyny are unsurprisingly upsetting to some who abide by the AAVE definition — American pop culture has appropriated the word, given it a new meaning, memed it onto shirtless Justin Bieber pictures, and made “fuccboi” into a “problematic” phenomenon.
So how did the second definition, the one which centers on the fuccboi’s mistreatment of women, come about? Pacific Standard writer Alana Massey conjectures that this definition of “fuccboi” stems from Millennials’ technologically-driven culture around online dating. She identifies the fuccboi’s defining qualities as male entitlement and fecklessness. And we continue to bastardize this word by having listicles that seemingly pop up daily about dealing with a fuccbois or how to be a fuccboi.
These are not the only two definitions that exist. When asked “what is a fuccboi?” my friend replied, “a douchey guy who’s self-aware of his noncommittal behavior.” As evidenced from above, this is just one take on an ever-evolving definition. Some say it’s like pornography:, you know it when you see it. Others, like Massey, contend that it’s a worldview, a lifestyle. And still others use this term to describe people who fail to live up to their inflated ego.
I think that this portmanteau is too simple to have just have one origin or definition — combining two words to make an insult is definitely not a culturally specific practice. Theories abound the internet about how this word came to be: slang used by the LGBT community since the 1960’s, a colloquialism among prison inmates to refer to rape, a purposefully-degrading term to describe thirsty individuals on OkCupid and other dating sites, or a transphobic slur used by sex tourists in southeast Asia.
Sure, some definitions deserve more credence than others, but I don’t think that it’s kosher to set a definition on this term. “Fuccboi” is special, powerful and universal. It means something different to all of us: for some, it evokes agonizing memories; for others, it’s a way to criticize someone’s behavior. Not only does “fuccboi” produce a certain image, it also allows us to subjectively describe that image. Only a few English words language carry this capability.
I, for one, am not the type to throw around the word “fuccboi” often. For starters, I don’t encounter people who fall perfectly into that category; alongside that, I can’t even grasp what this category entails. Instead of pondering on serious issues or asking philosophical questions, I encourage all to follow my example and squander time thinking about this etymological quandary.
Featured image courtesy of Buzzfeed