Fart is most commonly used in reference to flatulence. The word "fart" is generally considered unsuitable in formal situations as it may be considered vulgar or offensive. Fart can be used as a noun or a verb. The immediate roots are in the Middle English words ferten, feortan or farten, kin of the Old High German word ferzan. Cognates are found in old Norse, Slavic and also Greek and Sanskrit. The word "fart" has been incorporated into the colloquial and technical speech of a number of occupations, including computing.
The image of a fart on a heat vision camera
By the early twentieth century, the word "fart" had come to be considered rather vulgar in most English-speaking cultures. While not one of George Carlin's originalseven dirty words, he noted in a later routine that the word fart, ought to be added to "the list" of words that were not acceptable (for broadcast) in any context (which have non-offensive meanings), and described television as (then) a "fart-free zone". Thomas Wolfe had the phrase 'a fizzing and sulphuric fart' cut out of his 1929 work Look Homeward, Angel by his publisher. Ernest Hemingway, who had the same publisher, accepted the principle that fart could be cut, on the grounds that no one should use words only to shock. The hippie movement in the 1970s saw a new definition develop, with the use of fart as a personal noun, to describe a 'detestable person, or someone of small stature or limited mental capacity', gaining wider and more open usage as a result.
Rhyming slang developed the alternative form 'Raspberry Tart', later shortened to 'Raspberry', and occasionally 'Razz'. This was associated with the phrase 'blowing a raspberry'. The word has become more prevalent, and now features in children's literature, such as the Walter the Farting Dog series of children's books, Robert Munsch's Good Families Don't and The Gas We Pass by Shinta Cho.
According to The Alphabet of Manliness, the assigning of blame for farting is part of a ritual of behaviour. This may involve deception and a back and forth rhyming game. Derived terms include fanny fart (queef), brain fart and old fart.
The English word fart is one of the oldest words in the English vocabulary. Its Indo-European origins are confirmed by the many cognate words in some other Indo-European languages: It is cognate withGreek πέρδομαι (perdomai), as well as the Latin pēdĕre, Sanskrit pardate, Avestan pərəδaiti, Italianpettare, French "péter", Russian пердеть (perdet') and Polish "pierd" << PIE *perd [break wind loudly] or *pezd [the same, softly], all of which mean the same thing. Like most Indo-European roots in the Germanic languages, it was altered by Grimm's law, so that Indo-European /p/ > /f/, and /d/ > /t/, as the German cognate furzen also manifests.
The word fart in Middle English occurs in "Sumer Is Icumen In", where one sign of summer is "bucke uerteþ" (the buck farts). It appears in several ofGeoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales. In "The Miller's Tale", Absolon has already been tricked into kissing Alison's buttocks when he is expecting to kiss her face. Her boyfriend Nicholas hangs his buttocks out of a window, hoping to trick Absolon into kissing his buttocks in turn and then farts in the face of his rival. In "The Summoner's Tale", the friars in the story are to receive the smell of a fart through a twelve-spoked wheel.
In the early-modern period, the word fart was not considered especially vulgar; it even surfaced in literary works. For example, Samuel Johnson's A Dictionary of the English Language, published in 1755, included the word. Johnson defined it with two poems, one by Jonathan Swift, the other by Sir John Suckling. Benjamin Franklin prepared an essay on the topic for the Royal Academy of Brussels in 1781 urging scientific study. In 1607, a group of Members of Parliament had written a ribald poem entitled The Parliament Fart, as a symbolic protest against the conservatism of the House of Lords and the king, James I.