An Encyclopedia of Swearing
In which we learn about anatomical insults:
Today the use of names of parts of the body as lexical items in swearing and in strong language is so entrenched that it is natural to assume that it has always been so. (One is focusing here on the direct usage, such as “You prick!,” and the personal insult by indirect reference, as in “major league asshole!”) In fact, this is a comparatively recent convention, historically speaking, even though the words themselves have in some cases been in the language since ancient times. Generally, terms like arse, arsehole/asshole are recorded as personal vituperation only from the early decades of the twentieth century. According to the Oxford English Dictionary and the Random House Historical Dictionary ofAmerican Slang, the first recorded insulting applications of sexual terms are as follows: prick (1928), cunt (1929), twat (1929), and tit (1947). Dick is unique in its development, since the sense of “fool” is recorded from the sixteenth century, but that of “penis” only from about 1888.
FJP: Adding to the reading list.