Edgar v. McCutchen (Missouri): January 1846

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For a chronological, annotated timeline of all the 19th century cases that mention "buggery," "crime against nature," or "sodomy" see:

Timeline: Published U.S. State Appeals Case Reports, 1800-1899

The following legal case is one of the 19th century cases those that mention "buggery," "crime against nature," or "sodomy".

Published Decision of the Missouri Supreme Court



The case of Hanna vs. Adams, 3 Mo. R. 160, overruled.

In an action of slander, the meaning of the word "fuck" need not be averred. Although lexicographers may be too modest to give its definition, it is nevertheless an English word, the meaning of which is well understood.

APPEAL from Washington Circuit Court.

SCOTT, J., delivered the opinion of the court.

McCutchen sued Edgar for slander. The slanderous charge was carnal knowledge of a mare, and the word "fuck" was used to convey the imputation. After a verdict for the plaintiff, a motion made in arrest of judgment, for the reason that the word used to convey the slander, was unknown to the English language, and was not understood by those to whom it was spoken; and the case of Hanna vs. Adams, 3 Mo. Rep. 222, amongst others, was cited. The motion was overruled, and Edgar appealed.

[End of page 759]

PER CURIAM. Because the modesty of our lexicograpers restrains them from publishing obscene words, or from giving the obscene signification to words that may be used without conveying any obscenity, it does not follow that they are not English words, and not understood by those who hear them; or that chaste words may not be applied so as to be understood in an obscene sense by every one who hears them.

All the Judges concurring, the judgment is affirmed.

Link to the PDF of the Original Case Report

Edgar v. McCutchen, 9 Mo. 759 (1846)

Downloads of PDFS of Page Images of Court Documents

Record from the Appellate Case before the Missouri Supreme Court

Original court documents held by the Missouri State Archives

See also:Timeline: Published U.S. State Appeals Case Reports, 1800-1899


  1. This is the text of Edgar v. McCutchen, 9 Mo. 759 (1846).