As the only word beginning with the letter f that is referred to as the f word, it either gives this word a magical or taboo like quality. However shall we take a closer look. It can be used in many ways. On its own as an indicator of surprise, disgust, pain, fear, disappointment, anger, or a sense of extreme elation, even as a simple exclamation. Like many words that have multi functional linguistic possibilities (e.g. cheers) this can be down to context, phrasing and tonal usage. Even in Irish English they have their own equivalent feck, also in the TV phenomena of Galactica they have coined the word frack so as not to even use that oh so offensive word fuck.
But why does it also possess this taboo like quality, this could be down to the offensive usage such as;
You motherfucking fucker or You rite fuck
crossing over to the taboo like perception that can go hand in hand with the association of ill education, lower class or just crass.
On the onehand as you can find in the very articulate Stephen Fry interview (7 mins) here;
it should not be seen as always so offensive after all such phrases as;
That was murder. What a torturous time. It plagues me to think on that. We fought hammer tooth and nails over that one. They massacred them in the second half.
highlight the worst things that can happen to us, or we do to each other. On the other hand we do not give the words really any second thought when we use them.
Although the word has very similar equivalents in many Germanic based lingos;
German ficken and Dutch fokken, dialectal Norwegian fukka, and likewise dialectical Swedish fokka.
it seems to me in German that the word Scheisse (even shit) replaces the multi functional use of the English word fuck. So some people see German as a harder language in it´s pronunciation, but English because of fuck as being more vulgar. Not sure about the other Germanic languages as I do not speak them. It also as I said given this other qualities, like the childish sniggers to accidental usage or even the apparel shop FCUK. But why do we give this word such a hard fucking time, when after all it can be used to describe what can be a very expressive act between two people?