Last issue's Word of the Week, feculent, put me in mind of a similar word that a girlfriend's mother once archly used to describe me - feckless.
Despite their obvious similarities, however, feculent and feckless have entirely different roots. Scottish in origin, feckless is a variant of feck, from effeck or effect. A feckless person is one so spineless and jelly-like as to be incapable of causing anything. How rude!
Does feck in the Scottish sense have any connection with feck, the expletive so popular among the Irish? Indeed it does. While you may be excused for thinking that feck the swear word is simply a more palatable version of you-know-what, it also conveys a sense of uselessness (as in feckless).
Two other meanings of feck are steal and throw contemptuously, as in "he fecked $10 from his mum's purse" and "he fecked me the remote, the pig". That makes it a hard working word indeed, unlike those feckless layabouts it is sometimes used to describe.
As for my girlfriend's mother, I hope for her sake that she eventually changed her opinion of me. Today, that girlfriend is my wife.