"Abide þou þef malicious!
Biche-sone þou drawest amis
þou schalt abigge it ywis!"
["Of Arthour & of Merlin," c.1330]
"Probably the most common American vulgarity from about the middle of the eighteenth century to the middle of the twentieth" [Rawson].
"Our maid-of-all-work in that department [indecency] is son-of-a-bitch, which seems as pale and ineffectual to a Slav or a Latin as fudge does to us. There is simply no lift in it, no shock, no sis-boom-ah. The dumbest policeman in Palermo thinks of a dozen better ones between breakfast and the noon whistle." [H.L. Mencken, "The American Language," 4th ed., 1936, p.317-8]
Abbreviated form SOB from 1918. Mencken, complaining of the tepidity of the American vocabulary of profanity, writes that the toned-down form son-of-a-gun "is so lacking in punch that the Italians among us have borrowed it as a satirical name for an American: la sanemagogna
is what they call him, and by it they indicate their contempt for his backwardness in the art that is one of their great glories."