Examples of feckless
Examples of feckless
Where does feckless come from?
Feckless seems like an unlikely word to make news in the internet age, sounding more like something you’d see in a letter in the 18th-century about someone’s unambitious relative. And indeed, feckless has a fairly old pedigree, recorded in the late 1500s. This Scots word is based on feck, which can refer to “vigor” or “efficiency,” and is a clipped form of effect. So, feckless is “lacking feck,” hence “ineffective.”
Feckless one of many –less words in English that retains a base noun we’ve otherwise largely lost, e.g., ruthless, reckless, hapless, gormless. And, in case your wondering, feckless does have a counterpart in (the rare or humorous) feckful.
But, humble feckless was catapulted into publicity on May 30, 2018, when comedian Samantha Bee dropped it (and another very choice word) on her news satire show Full Frontal with Samantha Bee.
Amid the controversy of the Trump administration’s migrant family separation policy that year, Ivanka Trump tweeted a photo of herself and her child. On a segment of her show lambasting the perceived obliviousness of the photo, Bee said: “Let me just say, one mother to another, do something about your dad’s immigration practices, you feckless cunt!”
The White House (along with others) condemned the comment, and Samantha Bee issued an apology the following day. But, the word feckless (and that other, stronger word) went buzzing in search interest and in the media after the incident.
Who uses feckless?
Feckless is widely used as a forceful adjective fired at someone felt to be inadequate, weak-willed, or ineffective at their job or in life.
Pouring money into a feckless boyfriend is like investing in a company you own no part of.
— Solomon Olumide S (@emnifeelinboyya) August 9, 2016
It’s especially used in political contexts (a trend already noted in the early 2010s, before Samantha Bee’s comments), where it may be paired with insults, including coward or other, stronger C words (thanks to Bee).
What should we do? We fight evil fearlessly within our spheres of influence, harangue this feckless government & hold loved ones close.
— Ebony Elizabeth (@Ebonyteach) October 12, 2017
Of course, it’s not all politics with feckless, which also finds a home in plenty of sports contexts, too.
A player who would revolutionise United’s feckless midfield. Instead, the club want Sean Longstaff. Because he’s English and well, cheap? https://t.co/mHOHUNGBjJ
— Trequartista™️💦 (@grant_robbins) June 25, 2019
One sub-usage is the phrase the feckless poor, which is like an older, British version of the “welfare queen,” i.e., the stereotype that the poor are lazy and undeserving of benefits.
Welcome to the utopia the @Conservatives have built! In 2018 families in Britain are forced to live without food and electricity. Can we finally put the idea of the scrounging, feckless poor to bed? Perhaps our government should help these people? pic.twitter.com/AgqmOjPPrt
— Theresa May's Demons (@StopTheresa_May) April 20, 2018
But it’s not always so mean, feckless. Sometimes it can be used in a more lighthearted, ironic way.
Last week was tough, I miss my daughter so much & sometimes I just need to get off the bus and look after me. Yesterday I found a new knitting group, met some lovely ladies, bought yarn had a few pints and tea out with Mr J & came home to this feckless lazy Hound! Little steps! pic.twitter.com/uwu6mqyma8
— Rebecca Jackson (@RJaks4) June 23, 2019