July 03, 2004


Charles Krauthammer celebrates the deuce:

The deuce is the preferred usage when time is short and concision is of the essence. Enjoying the benefits of economy, it is especially useful in emergencies. This is why it is a favorite of major league managers going nose-to-nose with umpires. They have only a few seconds before getting tossed out of the game, and as a result television viewers have for years delighted in the  moment when the two-worder is hurled, right on camera. No need for sound. The deuce was made for lip reading.

Favourite examples of deuce-use are invited in comments.

Posted by Tim Blair at July 3, 2004 05:05 PM

Woody allen movie about Joe McCarthy and the Hollywood Blacklist. When he's (Allen) finally dragged before the Un-American Activities Committee he refuses to testify and then adds " And furthermore Senator, fuck you."
At least, that's how I remember it.

Posted by: Tim Worstall at July 3, 2004 at 07:31 PM

Only one comes to mind. Or maybe I should say Twins? The immortal, the fantasticly, groovie, shagadelic (do I make you horny?) dynamic deuce, Fook Mi & Fook Yu from Austin Powers Goldmember.

Posted by: Papertiger at July 3, 2004 at 08:02 PM

Cheney campaign bus "The Little Duece Coupe"

Posted by: EddieP at July 3, 2004 at 09:35 PM

When Lileks said it, of course!

Posted by: Sarah at July 3, 2004 at 10:15 PM

Crap. That's what I get for paying too close of attention to the red warning on how to link. Let's try this again.

When Lileks said it, of course.

Posted by: Sarah at July 3, 2004 at 10:17 PM

My all time favorite is the American Sign Language version of "the deuce" as given by the legendary Johnny Cash.

Posted by: cbk at July 3, 2004 at 11:27 PM

Krauthammer repeats the mistake of thinking ``fuck'' in ``fuck you'' is a verb. It is not. No more than ``fucking'' in ``fucking brilliant'' is an adjective, something that does not recommend the FCC's abilities in grammar.

``Fuck you'' is an epithet, and not an imperative at all. Its ``fuck'' does not do any of the things that real verbs do

Compare ``close the door'' with ``fuck you.'' All of these embeddings and transformations are wrong with ``fuck you'' and fine with ``close the door.''

I said to fuck you.
Don't fuck you.
Do fuck you.
Please fuck you.
Fuck you, won't you?
Go fuck you.
Fuck you or I'll take away your teddy-bear.
Fuck you and I'll give you a dollar.

They are wrong, why? Because it's not an imperative but something else.

Ironically, the reflexive and much more apt ``Go fuck yourself'' is not an epithet but an actual imperative, and the literate Cheney in fact undoubtedly used this form.

For more on this important misunderstanding, see Quang Phuc Dong ``Sentences without Overt Grammatical Subject'' in _Studies out in Left Field : Defamatory Essays Presented to James D. McCawley on the Occasion of Hit 33rd or 34th Birthday_ Zwicky et al. editors, recently reissued.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at July 3, 2004 at 11:53 PM

Gosh, Ron Hardin, you are fucking boring.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 4, 2004 at 12:19 AM

Tim Worstall, The movie was "The Front", and the line was one of the best in movie history: "Gentlemen, you can go fuck yourselves"

And I love the idea of "Little Deuce Coupe"

Posted by: Ken Summers, Perversion Catalyst at July 4, 2004 at 01:55 AM

Andrea, Goffman's idea was that even grammatical forms like ``fucking boring'' are misanalyzed as to function. ``Even in these productive cases, taboo words are not entirely vulnerable to syntactical analysis. Saying that ``the fuck'' in a sentence like ``What the fuck are you doing?'' is adjectival in function, or that ``bloody'' in ``What are you bloody well doing?'' is an adverb, misses something of the point. In such cases specific syntactic location seems to be made a convenience of, for somehow the intensifying word is meant to color uniformly the whole utterance some place or other in which it occurs.'' Erving Goffman ``Response Cries'' _Forms of Talk_.

I only wanted to say that Cheney is above that and used the fully meant form as to syntax and semantics both : ``Go fuck yourself.''

Less than that, and you're dealing in mood swings. In effect, he's taken to be a Democrat.

Posted by: Ron Hardin at July 4, 2004 at 02:09 AM

Fucking is usually an adjective, but when I say Fuck You, it's a directive. It is a verb.

Posted by: aaron at July 4, 2004 at 02:18 AM

Any examples I could come up with would be personal, therefore uninteresting to the general public. Besides, I'm finding the grammar discussions informative and... well... fucking boring.

Posted by: Rebecca at July 4, 2004 at 02:26 AM

"Fuck you" means "get fucked but not in a nice sense," "may somebody or something mess you up." 3rd-person imperative & fuck-all simple.

Do you disagree? Then consider these examples.

[May God] damn you. [May something] fuck you.

Posted by: ForNow at July 4, 2004 at 02:59 AM

My favorite use of "the deuce" was when cartoonist Tony Millionaire (Maakies) was having one of his hilarious, drunken message-board flamewars, this one about a silly hoax he started about being censored by the FCC for using "cunt" in one of his strips. Somebody said something like, "I find it interesting that you think anybody who disagrees with you is your enemy." His reply: "I find it interesting that fuck you." I guess you kind of have to know Tony. But I laughed out loud.

Posted by: Jim Treacher at July 4, 2004 at 03:52 AM

I'm laughing now! And stealing that line for future use.

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 4, 2004 at 04:21 AM

>[May God] damn you. [May something] fuck you.

But it doesn't substitute for ``Fuck you.'' For instance you can't modify it with an adverb

Fuck you quickly.

So that's not what the deep structure of ``fuck you'' is. Likewise ``fuck'' cannot be a verb at all in the epithet ``Fuck you.'' If you're going to say that one is really the other, they ought to fit in the same grammatical structures.

Cheney's ``Go fuck yourself,'' on the other hand, allows all sorts of embedding and modification. That's a real man speaking, not just somebody in a bad mood. He has elaborations ready, and he can back it up. He's come along from ``Big time.'' http://rhhardin.home.mindspring.com/bigtime.ram

Posted by: Ron Hardin at July 4, 2004 at 04:33 AM

My favorite is a southernism. I heard this said by an inebriated friend, when he was addressing several of us at once:

"Fuck y'all...fuck ALL y'all!"

Posted by: Michael at July 4, 2004 at 08:10 AM

I'm with Treacher and Andrea. "I find it interesting that fuck you" needs to be spread to all corners of the world.

Posted by: Sortelli at July 4, 2004 at 10:09 AM

Michael, you didn't finish it: "Fuck all y'all and yo mama's dawg!"

Posted by: Andrea Harris at July 4, 2004 at 10:38 AM

The best use of the deuce I've seen is by Robert Duvall in the movie "Falling Down". He's a cop, and says to his superior: "Fuck you Cap'n- Fuck you very much"

Posted by: MC at July 4, 2004 at 11:33 AM

Twice disagreeing?

"Damn you quickly"? That doesn't work either, at least not quickly enough.

Yet these, both of these, work:

"Fuck you deucedly" & "damn you deucedly".

Posted by: ForNow at July 4, 2004 at 12:33 PM

Ron Hardin:

"Fuck you or I'll take away you're teddy-bear"

Man, that's just all kinds of creepy.

Posted by: james at July 4, 2004 at 12:47 PM

I'm with Sarah up top. When Lilek's detonated that F-bomb he absolutely VIVISECTED Salam Pax. I mean really. It was almost cruel.

He's that good.

PS: Please, Ron Hardin, no fucking more.

Posted by: rod at July 4, 2004 at 01:03 PM

Michael -

YESSS! As a native of South Carolina, I once astonished my roommates (natives of NY and Boston) with the "Fuck ALL ya'll!" comment. But it's perfectly correct! And it has the added bonus of being unheard-of by Yankees, so it has the effect of leaving them speechless.

And, Andrea, it's actually, "Fuck ALL ya'll and the horse ya'll rode in on!" When I've had a few beers, each one of those words comes out as two or three syllables long, and it REALLY has an effect.

Posted by: kimberly at July 4, 2004 at 02:07 PM

Of course you knew I couldn't let this one just pass without additional comment.


Posted by: Ken Summers, Perversion Catalyst at July 4, 2004 at 02:13 PM



Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you. Fuck you.

To thooose who saaay to us, "Fuck you," we say, no! Fuck you, fuck--youuuuuu.

This is something in which everybody can participate.

Posted by: ForNow at July 4, 2004 at 02:35 PM

Here is an echo of Habib's from IraqtheModel directed toward our Euro allies not exactly the deuce.

Posted by: Papertiger at July 4, 2004 at 02:38 PM

here is another example of Deuce use from a campaign poster for the communist party of France

Posted by: Papertiger at July 4, 2004 at 02:56 PM

At the beginning of Glen Garry Glen Ross Alec Baldwin's character has showed up to chew out and intimidate the salesmen. Ed Harris starts to ask him who the hell he is, and Baldwin bellows, "My name is FUCK YOU!"

I've always liked that one.

Posted by: Dave Himrich at July 4, 2004 at 03:22 PM

Go VEEP! Pat Leary is an effete ignorant punk who is more of a disgrace to Vermont than Howard Dean. The Green Mountain Boys must have rolled over in their graves to know that the whimpering blowhard simp Leary who gets the vapors when someone like Cheney points out his senatorial shortcomings represents their once great state.

Reminds me of a party I went to where a just discharged and seriously drunken Corporal stood next to the keg and made an announcement. "I am going to tell everyone of you personally what I think of you." He then came to each of us in turn, middle finger extended and said "Fuck you." After four or so of these personal assessments, we jumped him, and invited him to reconsider. That was a really good party.

Posted by: USMCKen at July 5, 2004 at 01:23 AM

"The Deuce" makes a pretty good adjective as well as an imperative, as shown by this graphic (from Iraq the Model):


Posted by: Brown Line at July 5, 2004 at 01:46 AM

This is by no means meant to exclude all the other excellent uses of the phrase, but seeing James Lileks use it in that context (I'd not seen the original until now - thanks for posting the link, Sarah), it absolutely GUSHED with his meaning.

The point that some folks seem to miss, or pretend to miss, is that "fuck you" gets a lot of meaning into very, very few words.

And for this, I am grateful.

Posted by: Patton at July 5, 2004 at 01:38 PM

Hey George S.- I loved it when you pissed in the Rhine; didn't have to say a word.

Posted by: Habib at July 5, 2004 at 07:28 PM