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cuck or cuckservative

What does cuck mean?

A cuck is a derogatory slang term for a weak, effeminate, or inadequate man. Cuck has also been blended with conservative to produce cuckservative, often shortened back to cuck. Both cuck and cuckservative are especially used online by white nationalists to insult US Republican politicians they judge as insufficiently conservative.

image of cuck

Where does cuck come from?

Cuck is shortened from cuckold, a term that has been belittling the “husband of an unfaithful wife” since the 1200s. The word cuckold derives from a French word for the cuckoo bird. Just as the female cuckoo lays eggs in other birds’ nests, so a cuckold’s wife, as it’s said, sleeps in another man’s bed.

Green’s Dictionary of Slang notes that cuckold was abbreviated to cuck as early as the 16th century, but it appears the word underwent a second, independent clipping in the 2000s. A 2007 entry in Urban Dictionary defines cuck to mean the same thing as a stronger four-letter word that it conveniently rhymes with.

In online message boards like 4chan over the 2010s, cuck slang developed racist and misogynistic undertones. Cuck porn, for instance, describes a genre of pornography featuring white husbands watching their wives have intercourse with black men. Among others, the implication is that such a husband is so weak he can’t do anything to stop her and so submissive he even observes the act. As linguist Mark Liberman explained on Language Log, cuck “was extended figuratively on 4chan to reference ‘relinquished manliness’ and more abstractly ‘selling out, abandoning principles.’”

In this vein, Know Your Meme points out two notable examples. First, the boyfriend of Zoe Quinn, who suffered extreme harassment during the 2014 Gamergate controversy, was called “beta cuck” over his allegations Quinn cheated on him. Then, later that year, comedian Louis C.K. was labeled a “cuck” in resentment of progressive views he expressed in his standup.

While it’s unclear exactly who coined it and when, cuck blended with conservative, yielding cuckservative. The term first appeared on Twitter in 2010, when it was used as a hashtag. This spread among white nationalists online, and they leveled cuckservative at conservative politicians they felt were too sympathetic or accommodating to mainstream, inclusive, and pro-minority policies—to them, these politicians were surrendering their conservative values like cucks giving over their beds.

Cuck rose to prominence during the 2016 US presidential election. In August 2015, The New York Times reported that the hashtag #cuckservative peaked during the GOP debates, when many social media users slammed Republican candidates who had “veered too far to the left.” Richard Spencer, president of the white supremacist National Policy Institute, told the paper: “It’s a very good shorthand meme to express a certain kind of frustration and a certain kind of contempt for mainstream conservatives.”

By 2016, internet users were commonly clipping cuckservative back to cuck. The force of the words had diluted as they seeped into mainstream usage, with many on the political right decrying establishment Republicans as cucks without knowledge of its seedier origins. Members of the American Dialect Society even nominated the two words for their 2016 Word of the Year in a category called “WTF.”

A few things to note…

Conservative internet and social media users most commonly issue cuck as a slang insult for mainstream Republican politicians. Owing to its history and continued use among white nationalist groups, however, cuck still carries a racist and misogynistic subtext.

Cuck also maintains currency online to ridicule men perceived as unmanly. On social media, women users have appropriated the hashtag #cuck in various expressions of dominance over their male significant others.

For example…

“Cuckservative, cuck: The term 'cuckservative' originated in the alt-right. It's a portmanteau of 'conservative' and 'cuckold' used to describe Republicans who are perceived to be emasculated or 'selling out.' Frequently shortened to 'cuck,' the term has come under scrutiny for its racist implications.”

Jessica Roy, “'Cuck,' 'Snowflake,' 'Masculinist': A Guide to the Language of the Alt-right’,” The Los Angeles Times (November 16, 2016)

“@tedcruz Dude, this guy slagged off your wife and father. Why're you having dinner with him? Sad! #cuck #brownnosing #pathetic”

Itinerant Camel @ItinerantCamel Twitter (March 11, 2017)

“As has been explained, 'cuck,' from cuckold, refers to a humiliated and powerless man whose wife cheats on him. It has been expanded in slang to mean any man who is seen as weak and unreasonably submissive to women.”

/u/fuckyoudurangatang Reddit (February 9, 2015)

This is not a formal definition of cuck like most terms we define on Dictionary.com, but is rather an informal word summary that touches upon the key aspects of the meaning and usage of cuck that will help you expand your word mastery.