Very Nice Ways to Say VERY BAD THINGS An unusual book of euphemisms Linda Berdoll Very Nice Ways to Say Very Bad Things g w g w Very Nice by Very ways to say Things An Unusual Book of Euphemisms Linda Berdoll Copyright © 2003, 2007 by Linda Berdoll Cover © 2007 by Sourcebooks, Inc. Internal design © 2003 Carol Sue Hagood Internal graphics © 2003 Carol Sue Hagood and Johnny Alvarez Sourcebooks and the colophon are registered trademarks of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems—except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviews—without permission in writing from its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc. Published by Sourcebooks Hysteria, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. P. O. Box 4410, Naperville, Illinois 60567-4410 (630) 961-3900 Fax: (630) 961-2168 www. sourcebooks. com Originally published in 2003. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Berdoll, Linda Very Nice Ways to Say Very Bad Things / Linda Berdoll p. cm.
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ISBN-13: 978-1-4022-0885-0 ISBN-13: 978-1-4022-2983-1 ISBN-10: 1-4022-0885-5 ISBN-10: 1-4022-2983-6 1. English language—Euphemism. 2. English language—Jargon. 3. English language—Terms and phrases. I. Title. PE1449. B4435 2007 427 —dc22 2006100787 Printed and bound in the United States of America. WC 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 Contents A spersions, brickbats, carping, cavil, censure, denunciation, disparagement, reproach, opprobrium, reproof, stricture, vitriol, epithets, and vituperation 1 v Censuring the Inherent Fool: The Lost Art 3 Shakespeare, Addressing Individual Mounds of Foul, Undigested Lumps of Donkey Entrails 19
Sacre Bleu: Profanities and Expletives 21 Oaths and General Vituperation 27 Silent Disparagement (The Bird and His Friends) 30 Circumlocution 33 Worshipping at the Shrine of Bacchus 49 its, disease, ill health, in? rmity, breakdowns, af? iction, ailment, attacks, bugs, collapse, complaint, con? nement, convalescence, disability, disorder, disturbance, dose, failing health, ? u, indisposition, malady, malaise, prostration, seizure, syndrome, a bit of unwell, and what’s been going around 53 F Indisposition 55 Going to Europe with Ralph and Earl in a Buick 56 In the Privy 65 Af? cted by Time’s Wing’d Chariot 69 v G ender speci? c activity, femininity, manhood, manliness, masculinity, sexuality, womanhood, womanliness, intercourse between animate beings, coition, coitus, copulation, fornication, generation, intimacy, lovemaking, magnetism, procreation, relations, reproduction, sensuality, sexuality 73 v Bewitched, Bothered and Betwattled 75 The Long Carbine 80 Dallying, Firkytoodling and Finkdiddling 83 Sex “Sain et Sauf ” 102 Men Behaving Badly 107 A Pea in the Pod 109 Misbegotten 110 Unknown to Man 112 Traf? cking with Oneself 114 D ft, mentally strange, barmy, unzipped, batty, berserk, insane, bonkers, cracked, loony, crazed, cuckoo, demented, deranged, peculiar, erratic, ? aky, fruity, idiotic, insane, lunatic, mad, maniacal, nuts, potty, psycho, touched, unbalanced, unglued, unhinged, wacky 135 The Gazelles are in the Garden 137 ‘N What? 142 Acknowledgements 144 v spersions, brickbats, carping, cavil, censure, denunciation, disparagement, reproach, opprobrium, reproof, stricture, vitriol, epithets, and vituperation You clod of puke-stocking, roastmeat for worms! Zounds, I have been bethumped by words. Shakespeare Censuring the Inherent Fool: The Lost Art ew would argue that some behavior is so abhorrent, it demands redressing. Regardless of justi? cation—idiot drivers, impudent clerks, adolescents who have been spawn by the devil—we as a society simply cannot condone smacking the offender upside the head. (Admittedly, we institute this decision partly in deference to decorum, but also in the distinct possibility that said transgressor might be packing heat. ) Since throwing the bric-a-brac can become prohibitively expensive, our only alternative is to let ? y with a few choice words.
That acknowledged, it is miserably apparent that standards about what is said or heard in public have become remarkably lax. What comes out of the mouths of babes nowadays would have once made a ? shwife blush. Not that we deplore vehement noti? cation of character ? aws, but F 3 chucking stock profanities about does not exhibit the exercise of intellect to which we aspire. To wit: You stupid, fat fuck Famous mob boss or: You show yourself highly fed and lowly taught. Shakespeare Granted, no one can hold a verbal candle to Will Shakespeare, but with a few carefully tailored ripostes, one might just leave the miscreants of society ? mmoxed, if not actually chastened. 4 Asp ersio b Hos and Hounds Once, was one to imply a man less than a gentleman, one would have to meet him at dawn accompanied by one’s seconds. The current vogue of anti-heroes appears to have reversed such a notion. Calling a man a rogue, scoundrel, heel or even humping dog will not necessarily be an insult. Therefore, with honor now discounted, the male character ? aws vulnerable for attack are intellect, cuckoldry, wimpiness and penis size. ns, brickbats, c arpin av g, c sure, il, cen Call Him a Rat; Just Don’t Call Him a Mouse. de He’s a most notable coward, an in? nite and ndless liar, an hourly prose-breaker, the owner of no one-good quality. Shakespeare 5 He is not only dull in himself, but is the cause of dullness in others. Samuel Foote Asp er sions, brickbats, ca rpin Homo-Boobus To properly vilify the cabbage-headed oaf, we must, unfortunately, blaspheme the animal kingdom*—polecat, skunk, swine, baboon, (particularly effective with a British in? ection) varmint, goose, or donkey. However, if one calls him a capon (a de-knackered chicken), one has hit a triple—not only is he a graceless lout, but also a eunuch— and unless he was in 4H, unlikely to comprehend the slam. nsure vil, ce g, ca de : He has no such brain as ear-wax. Shakespeare Dullard, dim bulb, dolt, lobberhead, or ? ap-doodle are inherent fools. A lurdane or sluggard is not only a fool, but a lazy fool. The particularly cantankerous ignoramus is a devil child, demon rogue, arch? end, churl, Mephistopheles, or carcass ? t for dogs. If one wanted to cover all the *(In that today few people understand that an ass is actually a four-legged animal, not the gluteal area surrounding one’s anus, we omitted it. ) 7 You met your wife’s wit bases, there is Lusus naturae, which is Latin for freak of nature.
To clarify the subtle difference between a jerk and a dunce, one must remember not to credit insult that can be more appropriately explained by stupidity. c 8 The Two-timed c Not so very long ago if a man found his wife in bed with another man and took a shotgun to them both, it was ruled justi? able homicide. Hence, it might be wise to make certain there is a clear avenue for escape before one goes rattling this particular cage. If one does have the moxie to do it, there is only one way to go. To quote Pulp Fiction, bri ckbat s, carping, cavi l, cen s ure, one has to “get medieval on his ass. To do so effectively, one must become intimately familiar with terms as old as the middle ages. We begin with the word cuckold, which many believe originates with the French word for cuckoo bird. This conclusion is apparently due to that dirty bird’s penchant for depositing, then abandoning, its monstrous egg into some unsuspecting little wren’s nest for it to hatch, then attempt to feed. History has writ cuckoldry a shooting offense, giving us to understand quite clearly that men do not want another’s cuckoo baby in their nest. In that the cuckoo egglayer and proprietress of said nest are both female should ciatio denun ,d goin g to your neighbor’s bed. Shakespeare 9 throw a monkey wrench in this entire affronted manhood stuff, but as far as we can determine, it has not. A man does not look behind the door unless he has stood there himself. Du Bois The derivations of most of our terms for cheating appear to be some convolution of the de? nition for horn—hard protuberance, e. g. penis, and cornu—horn-shaped anatomical characteristic. Indeed, there was a mythical beast called a bicorn, which, legend says, used to eat husbands who had unfaithful wives (as to why these victims of in? elity were the ones preyed upon, our crack team of researchers have been unable to ascertain). Then there is the Greek legend of Artemis who caught Actaeon peeking while she was bathing and turned him into a stag, thereupon causing his own hounds to eat him—which maybe served him right. 10 bri ckbat s, carping, cavi l, cen s ure, Hence, the poor cuckold is doomed to suffer, not only his wife’s in? delity, but being taunted as a cornuto or buck’s face (has horns, you know), suffering the forked plague, prey to the bicorn, or, get this, wearing Vulcan’s badge: n ciatio denun d The roof of Vulcan, her, by many a gift Seduced, Mars won, and with adult’rous lust The bed dishonour’d of the King of ? re. Cowper—The Odyssey of Homer One must concede that in issuing the jibe, Vulcan’s badge, it could be misconstrued. A certain element of the population may not understand that in this context, Vulcan pertains to the God of Fire and has nothing whatsoever to do with Star Trek. A wittol is aware he is being cheated on and puts up with it (what was Camilla Parker Bowles’ husband’s name anyway? ). If he is aware and enraged, he is horn-mad.
If he is cheating on her, she is a cuckquean and usually The Last to Know. If the correspondent in this affair is a man, he is, indeed, Actaeon. His female counterpart is an inconstant, faithless sore in the side of a man and, no doubt, a wanton hussy. The entire activity is, quite aptly, named cornucopia —horn of plenty (we suppose, because there is plenty of horniness going on). ATTENTION: It is imperative that when one in? icts any of the above abuse, it must be done with extreme superciliousness, else its just not gonna work. 11 What a candy-ass! The Invertebrate arp ing, cav il, censure, de nun In cock? hting, a white tail feather among the plumage of a gamecock denotes inferior breeding and therefore a less combative rooster. When calling a person’s courage into question, the accusation of showing a white feather may now seem a bit obscure, but for centuries, it was tantamount to saying “what a candy-ass. ” In common parlance a cur is a mongrel dog, but its second de? nition dating also from the thirteenth century, is coward. From the Middle Ages comes recreant, which as an adjective describes a begging of mercy (we understand not an uncommon occurrence during those times) and by token, one who does so, a coward. In the ? rst half of the 18th century, funk meant “a state of paralyzing fear,” hence one who funks is, too, a coward. As to how and why this term was usurped by the music industry in the ’70s remains a mystery, but it will arbitrarily remove the word funky from possible cowardly insults. *If faced with being drawn and quartered we are not certain who among us would not go down screaming like a woman bringing forth child. c He led his regiment from behind, He found it less exciting. W. S. Gilbert ciat 13 rage dispa ion, me
Cowardice is distinguished from panic by the inability to suspend the imagination. Therefore, the terms that imply the lack of stalwartness of someone’s innards are: lilylivered, yellow-bellied, spineless, faint, or chicken-hearted, pantywaist, or a gutless wonder. One might avoid wimp and big baby—they lack imagination. Woody Allen says he is not a hypochondriac, but an alarmist. That makes our list, as does milquetoast, caitiff, craven, dastard, or poltroon. Save sissy-britches or wienie for when one has to pull out the big artillery. VFYI: We note a rectal sub-category as it relates to the frightened.
First, there is the pucker factor, which refers to the degree of fear that causes one’s sphincter to tighten. Contrarily is the green heron or shitepoke which, when startled into ? ight, defecates. It goes without saying that whatever category one may ? nd oneself in when, say, one’s aircraft plummets or the IRS makes inquiries, should remain between oneself and one’s laundress. He Who Is Not Nick-Named Tripod There was an old man named Ringer, Who was seducing a beautiful singer. He said with a grin, “Now, I’ve got it in. ” Said she, “You mean that’s not your ? nger? ” 14 rp ing, cav il, censure, de nunc Of the euphemisms we uncovered for a man less favored by nature (hung like a chicken, pencil-dick and bugfucker), we can only recommend under-endowed and three-inch fool, so this entry will be blessedly small (no pun intended). The Five-Letter Woman : She was a woman of mean understanding, Little information and uncertain temper. Jane Austen Historically the most effective means to rebuke any woman was to disparage her virtue (that or possibly her fashion sense). Nowadays, un-virtuous and unladylike are probably as useless as insults go as un-gentlemanly.
Yet however ubiquitous its use, we can agree that calling a disreputable female a bitch (or even puppy’s mama) is not only common, but an insult to female dogs. Harpy, harridan, slattern, or shrew may be vintage, but they are just pithy enough for general reproach of shrill, hateful behavior. When faced with an irredeemably cantankerous woman, she may well be the Devil’s Sister. (If she appears to ? nd this in any way complimentary, a keen sense of self preservation might suggest one run like a cheap pair of pantyhose. ) c p on, dis iati e arag me F r oul Sluts
Even if the succubus that one’s brother intends to marry is a fornicatress that has seen more pricks than a dartboard, we encourage one not to refer to her as a slut, tramp, hussy, trollop, roundheeled ? oozy, or dirtylegged Jezebel. One might get away with “she’s been around the block more times than the Good Humor man” to others, but unless he actually asks your opinion, one might do well to refrain from comment at all. Other analogies for that woman who has been laid on every ? at rock in three counties include the town pump or any noun that can I can remember when the air was clean and sex was dirty. 6 be ridden: bicycle, hobby horse, barber’s chair, ferry, hackney, taxi, etc. A badger is a loose woman who is particularly ill-scented. Disclaimer: This information is offered only for elucidative purposes. VFYI: If one believes that a woman is of accommodating morals and decides to say so publicly, one has bewhored her (or, depending on one’s ‘hood, possibly beho-ed her). Be certain that she doesn’t mind the advertisement or have your affairs in order, for it is said: “Hell hath no fury like pussy with a pistol. ” 17 Y’wanna piece of me, sweetie? Dog City
If while mentally cruising some parallel universe, one believes it a good idea to slander a masculine woman, at least have the good sense to avoid calling her a diesel-dyke or hell pig. Virago, beldame, trolleymog, daggletail, or buffarilla mean precisely the same thing and their relative obscurity may offer one just enough time to elude being beaten to a pulp. OTE: We have been told that if one is in a Spanish-speaking country, it is also advisable not to compliment a strong woman by calling her macha. VN w At a loss for words, hockey puck? Quote Shakespeare. BULLETIN: The unparalleled king of insults s not Don Rickles. As has certainly not passed one’s notice, Shakespeare marshals up gems of abuse that would whoosh right over the average boor’s head. Therefore, appropriating The Bard’s 18 words to one’s own needs will serve a dual purpose. It confounds the ignorant and catches the erudite off guard. Hence: avi l, c ensu re, denunciatio n, d Shakespeare, Addressing Individual Mounds of Foul, Undigested Lumps of Donkey Entrails: for those of the female persuasion Hag of hell, fat chuff, latten bilbo (brass shackles), painted maypole, long-tongued babbling gossip, and Amazonian trull.
For men who have fallen out of one’s favor False hound, untutored churl, rank weed, insolent cracker, unlettered small-knowing soul, odoriferous stench, pigeon-egg of discretion, dilatory sloth, homely swain, clod of wayward marl, dunghill groom, puke-stocking, improvident ? ea, ronyon (mangy or scabby creature), roastmeat for worms, princox (fop), cacoethes (one with insatiable desire, usually disreputable), mad mustachio’d purple-hued maltworm, prick-eared cur of—(? ll in the name of town, school, or neighborhood the cur claims as home), and whoreson. for one’s boss
Old feeble carrion, scolding crookbank, embossed carbuncle, white-livered-red-faced prince of ? ends, cacodemon (evil spirit), maggot pie, execrable wretch, beef-witted, or sodden-witted implorer of unholy suits. to verbally backhand group obnoxiousness You rabble of vile confederates, herd of boils and plagues, petty spirits of region low, strangely visited people, foul and pestilent congregation of vapors, college of witcrackers, dissolute crew, or base lackey peasants. 19 c ep ent, r ragem ispa ro Under certain circumstances, profanity provides a relief denied even to prayer. Mark Twain
Sacre Bleu: Profanities and Expletives w The “F” ing Word & Other Intensives Veritable, sure enough, or bona-? de are perfectly respectable intensi? ers when one needs, well, emphasis. Unfortunately, fucking seems to be the hands-down pejorative of choice in modern society. This being the case, we believe a little historical perspective couldn’t hurt . . . No matter how many people believe it true, it is highly unlikely that the word “fuck” is an acronym of For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge or that other old chestnut, Fornicate Under Consent of the King. Eric Partridge believed it evolved from the German word ? ken for “to strike. ” Like most, he found the word objectionable. He, however, categorized it along with words that he considered sadistic representations of the male’s part in copulation: clap, strike, thump, nail, and, yes, bang. Webster’s offers the derivations, 21 fokken (Dutch, to breed) or fokka (Swedish, to copulate). Others suggest the French word foutre, to thrust, and even ? rk (English 1600’s), to beat or to lash. However it originated, it has been in use and considered a vulgarity the better part of a millennium. As an intensive, Webster’s calls it meaningless. There are those who would disagree.
To avoid inciting an affronted swoon by the more sensitive souls of society, acronyms have been embraced in place of a number of phrases that include the “f” word. Speci? cally, we have GFY, which instructs one to do something anatomically impossible (Go Fuck Yourself ); GFU, a moron (General Fuck-Up); and NFW, an implausibility (No Fucking Way). Related acronyms include SNAFU, a cynical expectation of any situation in which the military is involved (Situation Normal, All Fucked-Up); FUBAR, unrecognizably mussed (Fucked-Up Beyond All Recognition); and there is the sarcastic BFD (Big Fucking Deal).
Additionally, when one has been indisputably wronged, one has been RF—Royally Fucked (also known as the king’s elevator—the royal shaft). Just for the record, a ? ying fuck is what one does not give, not airborne copulation. And abso-fucking-lutely means beyond a shadow of a doubt. 22 avi l, cens ure, denunci c w Merde ation, di p nt, re ageme spar The four-letter word for defecation has been in use for eons—which allows that antiquity does not necessarily dictate grand lexicon. It is possible to avoid the vulgarity of the word shit completely, as feces, manure, and dung all mean the same thing. Small point of interest: feces refer to human waste, manure and dung, animal. ) Other selections tend to be polysyllabic but are colorful—meadow dressing, bovine excrement, horse apples, corral confetti, etc. Granted, if one is discussing political matters, it may be impossible to avoid using (or even shouting) bullshit. However, if one does not want to compromise decorum completely, that can be shortened to B. S. Or, call it hogwash, heifer dust, or lip-gloss. Bull-chips might do in a pinch but, in all probability, not what pops out of one’s mouth when faced with ultimate doom (at which time one will most likely be up Shit Creek).
Indeed, sources report that when the black boxes are recovered from airplane crash sites, invariably the last words on the tape are “Uh-oh,” “Fuck! ” and “Oh, shit. ” Of course, one can use the French, merde or speak of “a short French expletive” which would in fact allow one to perform a rather impressive circumlocutory hat trick, a euphemism for a euphemism for euphemism. When one ? nds it necessary to point out the limitations of another’s character via the 23 ro alimentary canal, it is our position that it is preferable to enlist mock Latin such as excrementum cerebellum vincit rather than call someone a shit-head.
Other expressions that would bene? t such translation are: shit list (a mental note of personae non gratae); the shitty end of the stick (the bad end of a bargain—often known as the shaft); to shit or get off the pot (or ? sh or cut bait). To shit in high cotton is to have attained a higher standard of living. But not knowing shit from Shinola—well, that means . . . owing to stupidity one cannot tell feces from shoe polish. Someone whose continued presence is an 24 avi l, cens ure, denunci annoyance sticks like shit to a shovel.
Alternatively, shit on wheels re? ects an over-in? ated opinion of oneself. (We, however, could in no way determine how one could deign this to be a self-compliment). Shit a brick technically means discharging a copious and compacted bowel movement, but colloquially it refers to accomplishing the impossible. Lastly, to be so angry as to perform said impossibility is engaging in a shit-? t (also known as pitching a bitch). Certainly there are Latin instructors standing by to assist us. c ation, di p nt, re ageme spar ro w Vexed
As ancient a word as is piss, it was not until the last century that humankind found use for it beyond the single verb or noun. Nowadays, if one is pissed off, one is actually choleric (and undoubtedly with one’s panties in a bunch or knickers in a knot). Shakespeare expressed it thusly: “You do me the most insupportable vexation. ” Other urinary-based euphemisms and their more civilized translations: full of piss and vinegar (effervescent), piss away (squander the inheritance—leaving oneself without a pot to piss in), and piss blood (work with extreme diligence).
A piss-ass is a worthless individual (occasionally called an arseworm), to engage in a pissing match is an endeavor that is certain to be unproductive, and if one is piss-poor, one is monetarily disadvantaged (e. g. , without cable). 25 Full a’ piss and vinegar, ye’ are! Piss ugly is extremely unattractive and if piss-faced, one is overly medicated by alcohol. The heretofore unheard of, pissed as a newt has come to our attention. As we have not personally been confronted by an outraged salamander, we are uncertain of the etymology or history of this term.
We can only labor under the supposition that in this situation, “pissed” does mean vexed, for we believe one even less likely to come across a drunken newt than a mean one. OTE: The colorful late U. S. Vice President, John Nance Garner is oft quoted as saying the of? ce of Vice President was not worth a bucket of warm spit. Those who knew the man insist he didn’t use the word, “spit. ” 26 VN Oaths and General Vituperation f a potty mouth forsakes stock curses and lets ? y with the likes of Jumpin’ Jehosaphat, just imagine the stunned silence.
Likewise, pshaw, Land a Goshen, Lord love a duck, criminey, Ye Gods and little Fishes, pish-tosh, My I Well, bugger my giddy aunt. Great Aunt Gussie—or as Great Aunt Gussie might say, hells bells and panther tracks! While we understand these oaths are insuf? ciently obscene for some, calling someone a pinhead instead of a fuck-head will neither get one ticketed nor beat like a one-legged step-child. w The Abode of the Wicked Dead Down, down to hell; and say I sent thee thither Shakespeare Technically hell is the nether realm of the devil in which the damned suffer everlasting punishment.
In other words, a real sticky wicket. The word in and of itself is not naughty. Nevertheless, everyone knows (or at least suspects) that damning someone to it is considered a blasphemy. Hence, it is not surprising that an entire cottage industry of euphemistic splendor has erupted from that word’s roots. Indeed, the lengths to which people go to say it without “saying it” is quite remarkable: Hades, Hail Columbia, blue blazes, Cain, tarnation, Sam Hill, Kingdom Come, You Know Where, or any place that implies “down there,” the hot place, netherworld, lower regions, etc. Although 28 ens ure, de he Victorians gave us heck, perdition has been a suitable alternative since the 14th century. Today we seldom hear the once popular Go to Helen B. Happy. A shame, really. Hellacious is a multi-purpose adjective that can mean either: exceptionally powerful, remarkably good, extremely dif? cult or extraordinarily large. To be hell-bent is recklessly determined come hell or high water. c nunciation, dis para ge m pr ent, re , oach op w Doggone and Up Yours Oh darn, dang, confound, consarn, dagnab, dash, blank, or blast followed by it, are all euphemistic replacements for the word, damn. All denounce omeone or something as evil. Truly genteel society frowns on these seemingly benign adjectives as well as bloody, bleeding, blamed, all-? red, dad-gummed, dratted, and cotton-picking. At one time, a curse was serious business. No one took lightly being consigned by another to hell, which may be why Go to the Devil morphed into Kiss My Ass. Go jump in the lake or take a long walk off a short pier are only nicer sounding ways to tell someone to fold it ? ve ways and shove it where the sun don’t shine. 29 Silent Disparagement (The Bird and His Friends) A lthough many think of it as contemporary, igitus infamis or digitus impudicus (infamous or indecent ? nger) as a phallic symbol has been referenced in literary works as early as ancient Rome. Mad-as-a-hatter Caligula was rumored to hold up his middle ? nger for supplicants to kiss. There is the obvious suggestion of genitalia in ? st and extended middle ? nger, but we have heard that during early warfare, captured enemy archers had their ? ngers removed so they couldn’t draw a bow. Therefore, holding up two ? ngers (index and middle) backwards to one’s enemy signi? ed one could still do them damage. One could premise that’s pretty much saying “f— you. From the ? ght scene in Romeo & Juliet, which commenced with the snapping of thumbnail under the front teeth, to Texas A&M’s upraised “Gig ‘Em ens ure, de Aggies” thumb, we see the ultimate insult can be insinuated by other than extended middle ? nger. In the Arab world, palm down, middle ? nger waggling downward means the same as raised middle ? nger in the West. VFYI: The little ? nger offered as suggestion of a, shall we say, modestly proportioned male part is not of modern origin. Seek ye the Bible. I Kings 12:10. c nunciation, dis para ge m 31 pr ent, re , oach op
To express general disrespect, there is the Cock a Snook, also known as Ann’s Fan or Pulling Bacon, which is the thumb on nose, ? ngers waving. To grasp one elbow and raise a ? st is one of the commonest insult found worldwide, but is not universal. That title must go to displaying one’s naked backside. Anthropologists say mooning predates Braveheart and, loosely translated, meant “eat shit. ” After the fall of Bagdad, we saw Iraqis beating the tar out of portraits and statues of Saddam Hussein with their shoes, revealing to westerners one of the strongest insults of their culture—that of sticking the sole of your shoe in someone’s face.
As there are any number of variations of armpit, bicep, ? st, ? nger, thumb, nose, crotch and spit . . . maneuvers to express disrespect in different cultures, if one must hail a cab, say, in Greece or New York, do so with all due caution. 32 Circumlocution Because we often toss them about willy-nilly, we may forget that euphemisms serve a greater purpose than merely keeping the ladies at a garden party from glaring at us over the top of their spectacles. A glib turn of phrase can spare wounded feelings, a few mincing words keep lawyers at bay. Until the Victorian era, however, the euphemistic mother lode had not really begun to be mined.
Once Queen Victoria was on her throne and her minions on high alert, there was little that couldn’t be accused of having a sexual, and therefore, evil, connotation. Everything had to be renamed. Hence, a bull became a cow’s spouse and one’s buttocks, sit-upons. One can only imagine how dicey it must have been sitting down at Sunday dinner for some poor soul trying to ask for a speci? c piece of chicken. w A Woman of Expansive Sensibilities Paphos was an ancient city of Cypress known for worshipping Aphrodite. The well-traveled, or at least well-read, 33 Victorian men found it quite sly to call a prostitute or her doings, Paphian.
Further 19th century circumlocution favored demimondaine, academician, abbess, courtesan, Fille de jolie (fun gal) or nymph du pave (streetwalker). The term of choice for those whose professions or predilections sought to save her soul: she was a fallen woman. One rarely hears of a lady of certain description or painted woman anymore, but one would have to be pretty obtuse not to understand the meaning. A little more recent is woman of the night, streetwalker, naughty girl, and commercial sex worker. A quick check of our Yellow Pages did not uncover services by call girls.
However, escort, model, and actress listings are numerous and offer “discreet billing. ” As for the speci? c establishment where these shenanigans take place, a century ago it was referred to as a leaping academy, vaulting school, disorderly house, knocking enu ncia Dividing the spoils? shop, or chamber of commerce. However dated that sounds, one must agree that today’s snake ranch or slut hut is not much of an improvement. Granted, whorehouse is to the point, but just a tad crude. If compelled to speak of it, polite society might say it is a brothel, place of accommodation, bagnio, or seraglio.
Or, depending on your frame of mind, house of ill-repute. Furthering the subject, we proffer that he who pimps prostitutes is not a pussy peddler, hole-toller, buttock broker, vent renter, or crack salesman, but a panderer, procurer, or the French, sounteneur, and with or without pimpmobile, undoubtedly, a louse (editorially speaking). For he who thinks he is pulling the wool over by describing she who is gyrating upon his lap as an exotic dancer rather 35 d tion, disparage ment, rep ob , oppr roach riu than a stripper, be advised, he can go one step further in self- (or wife) delusion.
Employing the term ecdysiast is even more oblique. Although ecdysis does sound like a moderately uncomfortable medical procedure, it is actually the molting or shedding of a skin like a snake. w Men Much Taken With Wenching As lechery appears to be an accepted major by college-age males, modern vernacular has responded. Nowadays, he who pursues such activities with undue vigor is a walking hard-on. If the little stud muf? n has seen more tail than a toilet seat, when the dean writes home of his expulsion, he may be described as of distempered blood and duteous to vices. Well, maybe if he was at Oxford. ) We can call him a debaucher, libertine, ? esh-monger, incubus, Lothario, insatiate, or roue, but it doesn’t make him any less 36 enu ncia irredeemable. Of course, if he insists he is a man of the world by way of visiting three county fairs and a goatfucking, he undoubtedly is a bon viveur. d tion, disparage ment, rep ob , oppr roach riu w The Prevaricator Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire Honest Bob’s At one time, to question a Used person’s honesty was no trivWagons ial matter. Such was its consequence; one dare not bandy the word liar about.
ThereIf you seek the ? nest for fore, the more innocent prethe least, Honest Bob varicator was often accused can procure it for you. of only spinning a windy or embroidering the truth. A mountebank would lie like a rug, and a charlatan was crooked as a barrel of snakes. To piss in someone’s pocket means one is feeding him a pack of lies. A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes. Mark Twain 37 It’s hard to believe that a man is telling the truth when you know that you would lie if you were in his place. H. L. Mencken 38 ispa ragement, reproach,
Current euphemisms such as terminological inexactitude and economy with the truth dilly-dally about. When last we checked, thou shalt not bear false witness against one’s neighbor was still the ninth commandment. So “I misspoke” won’t cut it with the keeper of the pearly gates. A lie is an abomination to the Lord and a very present help in trouble. Adlai Stevenson Although not technically lying, pettifoggery ? ts into this category for general unscrupulousness. Since the 16th century, it has described the antics of two or more lawyers haggling unceasingly about minute matters thereby in? ting their client’s bill—thus proving the old axiom about the more things change, the more they stay the same. Q. Why do lawyers wear neckties? A. To keep the foreskin from crawling up their chins. d opp repro rium, rob of, st w Tuft Hunters and Suck-ups In English colleges such as Oxford, the aristocrats wore special tassels (tufts) on their mortarboard hats to denote their status. The more obsequious among the student body sought them out, ergo—tuft-hunters. To most, these truly annoying suck-ups are sycophants. If overtaken by an undeniable need to publicly decry this character ? w, one might whip out one’s French dictionary and sniff “leche-cul” (butt-kisser) right in the servile ? atterer’s face. Once out of high school, however, it is advisable to sling more derogatory comments such as bootlicker and brown-noser behind the back. If you do cast this particular stone, understand that bootlicker is associated with the habit of kissing the feet of kings and therefore conveys a modicum of respectability (only barely). However, it is often overlooked that brown-noser refers to the result of smooching another part of the anatomy.
Shakespeare called them all puling pickthanks. 40 ispa ragement, reproach, d w In the Altogether opp repro rium, rob 41 of, By de? nition, if one ? nds oneself in dishabille, one is carelessly attired. In truth, that French term is often nothing less than an outright accusation of misconduct. Not only has one been cited for having one’s clothes in a muss, but also by having them become that way because one has been fooling around. Standard advice: Gather whatever dignity one is able to muster, deny everything and make a brisk exit. st Clothes make the man.
Naked people have little or no in? uence on society. Mark Twain If caught without a stitch in the great outdoors, one is au natural. If indoors and can strike a pose, one is nude. In the case of being stark-ballock-naked and in a compromising situation, one is nekkid. * No defense—beat a hasty retreat without the bugle call. w The Part that Goes Over the Fence Last It is never necessary to use that three-letter word regardless whether it has been in use since the 12th century. Nor the four-letter one short for buttocks. Just say buttocks. Or bottom, behind, or rear end for heaven’s sake.
If that is just too simple and one feels the need to express oneself more ? oridly, we suggest posterior, derriere, ampersand, parts behind, prat (hence, pratfall), differential, fanny, ? eshy part of the thigh, blind cheeks, bum, or tushy. However we would like not, one hears, of course, of ying-yang, wazoo, and poop-chute. Or if you prefer the cloak of Latin, gluteus maximus. *This southern colloquialism, often preceded by “buck,” is differentiated from naked thusly: “Naked” means you do not have any clothes on. “Nekkid” means you don’t have any clothes on and you’re up to no good. 2 epr oach, oppr There once was a woman from Mass Who had an enormously large ass when asked does it wiggle she replied with a giggle No, but it occasionally does pass gas. r obrium, repr oof , st r 43 , icture l vitrio ,e w The Endomorph He sweats to death, And lards the lean earth as he walks along. Shakespeare “A goodly bulk,” Shakespeare also called it. But even on those rare occasions when an absolute description is unavoidable, however ample the avoirdupois, we believe buffalobutt, barge-assed, or hopper-hipped are unnecessarily mean. Weightadvantaged would be discreet.
With corpulent, obese, or endomorphic, one gets the broad-beamed picture. Callipygian or Rubenesque are downright complimentary. It is a long-held defense for having an amply ? eshed mate that one is assured of optimum warmth in the winter and shade in the summer. Conversely, lore tells of a guy of disturbingly low epr oach, oppr morals and poor initiative who only dates fat girls because he ? gures, “They don’t have much willpower. ” We are seeking out the purveyors of these stories in order to exact retribution. r obrium, repr oof , st r , icture l vitrio ,e
OTE: Any abuse is allowable if it is indemni? ed by the “bless her heart” clause. The only criteria for its application is that one can either claim Southern heritage or manage a credible Southern drawl when it is employed: “That girl is so fat, bless her heart, if she sat on a bug it would fossilize in ? ve minutes. ” Clari? cation: In the South, a boy or a girl is anyone under the age of 60. VN w Ill-Favored by Nature Whether or not a person looks like they fell from the ugly tree and hit every branch on the way down, one certainly would not want to make this observation within their earshot.
If it becomes necessary to describe an unprepossessing person to a third party and one does not want to be Never try to teach a pig to sing, it wastes your time and annoys the pig. Proverb The Lord prefers common-looking people. That is the reason why he made so many of them. Abraham Lincoln out-right deceptive, said person might be described as unlovely, disagreeable to the eye, or a bit homely. Do avoid butt-ugly at all costs (impolitic remarks have a nasty history of payback). The Paper Bag Rule If only one paper bag over the head is necessary to keep from frightening children, one is uncomely.
Two paper bags, admittedly hard-featured. Three paper bags, o. k. , butt-ugly. If the person in question is a close friend or relative, said person is plain but has a good personality. Postscript: If one would chew off an arm in the morning to escape undetected from a one-nighter who looked all right when they said, “Last Call,” that person is Coyote Ugly (owing to a coyote’s supposed willingness to chew off a limb to get out of a steel-jaw trap). 46 ppr ob rium , rep In our western regions, if one looks a bit worse for the wear, one has been rode hard and put up wet.
If this colloquialism needs explaining, then it would be wise not to try to work that dog won’t hunt into the conversation either. o roof, strictu re , vi triol, ts epithe an w Short Pockets A small-statured person is not sawed-off nor suffering from duck’s disease (short legs), but is vertically-challenged, abbreviated, a bit close to the ground, compact, diminutive, petite, slight, undersized, wee, or not tall. Alternately one with exceedingly long legs may have high pockets and run like a dromedary with the staggers, but it would be kinder to describe him as lean, lanky, or rangy. She is statuesque, unless, of course she is a arbon copy of Olive Oyl. If this is the case, one might want to disregard bony, emaciated, scrawny, living stick, or skeletal and rely on slender or a bit spare. w Buck-Toothed As to why the French describe someone with protruding teeth as dents a l’anglaise, we shall, in the name of diplomacy, not look to the British throne. 47 And ale for my steeds! Bacchus hath drowned more men than Neptune Dr. Thomas Fuller Worshipping at the Shrine of Bacchus w Killing a Few Brain Cells Webster’s ? rst de? nition for bibulous is “highly absorbent,” which is probably why its second de? nition describes one who over-imbibes on alcoholic substances.
Over-imbibers are also: besotted, befuddled, bleary-eyed, blotto, soused, bombed, Bosco Absoluto, adrip, a? oat, wall-eyed, cupshot, lit, likkered up, walking on rock socks, or stinking drunk. An oenophile is a lover of wine. With the addition of a prepositional phrase such as “of legendary proportions,” said drinker is a wino. The difference between a drunk and an alcoholic is that drunks don’t have to attend all those meetings. How we identify inebriates today is not half so eloquent as did our forefathers. Their excessive quaffers were called 49 The trouble with jogging is that the ice falls out of your glass. elch-guts, bibblers, biled owls, bloaters, boosey-cocks, bubbing-culls, cadgers, fuddle-caps, fuddlers, groghounds, gullions, guttles, large-heads (a hands-down favorite), lick-spigots, lick-wimbles, moist-uns, plonkdots, squiffs, and tosspots. The productive drunk is the bane of moralists. Anon An alcoholic is someone you don’t like who drinks as much as you. Dylan Thomas 50 proo f, st re ricture, vitriol , w Paying for It epith perat nd vitu et s a crapulous kra-pye-les adj [LL crapulosus, fr. L crapula intoxication, fr. Gk kraipale ] (1536) 1 : marked by intemperance esp. n eating or drinking 2 : sick from excessive indulgence in liquor If not behind the wheel, intemperance can be relatively benign. Indeed, a crying jag is embarrassing but hardly lethal. Be forewarned, even wearing beer goggles (optically impaired by drink) can get a limb chewed off (see coyote ugly). In one’s armor (? ghting drunk) is the best way to get ass-whupped. We don’t even want to talk about the infamous brewer’s droop (also known as whiskey dick). While the morning after one may be spitting feathers, visited by the brown bottle ? u implies a trip to Europe with Ralph and Earl in a Buick. on I always keep a stimulant handy in case I see a snake, which I also keep handy. W. C. Fields The beezie-weezies sound kind of cute. If you have them it means an array of colorful visitors from the animal kingdom have come to call on you (pink elephants, blue devils, red spiders, a black dog, or snakes—of any hue—in one’s boots). 51 You’re not drunk if you can lie on the ? oor without holding on. They are also synonymous with the screaming meemies, a term a tad more accurate. But the presence of either means the delirium tremens or DTs have invaded. And, if on the wagon is not something the af? cted has yet contemplated, clearly, the time is at hand. VFYI: 52 St. Bibiana, 4th century Spanish Patron Saint of hangovers its, disease, ill health, in? rmity, breakdowns, af? iction, ailment, attacks, bugs, collapse, complaint, con? nement, convalescence, disability, disorder, disturbance, dose, failing health, ? u, indisposition, malady, malaise, prostration, seizure, syndrome, a bit of unwell, and what’s been going around I need to see the Duchess of York. Indisposition They do not fall under the canopy of saving face, litigation, nor feelings. No, these situations have to be the reason euphemisms were invented in the ? rst place. Gastro-Intestinal Disorder Few of life’s miseries have escaped schoolyard ridicule, occasionally even put to rhyme. Therefore, it is not surprising that lower intestinal disturbance inspired at least one school-age ditty—”When you’re sliding into home and your pants are full of foam, diarrhea, diarrhea . . . ” There is an array of frank terms that describe not the bowel disorder itself, but the rapid response it necessitates. Hence, far too often we hear the runs, quickstep, sprints, trots, scoots, scatters, etc. Yet, admittedly, any of these are preferable to excusing oneself to company by declaring onset of the screaming shits.
Additionally, if on one’s vacation one has an attack of the turistas, assigning speci? c ethnic blame Going to Europe with Ralph and Earl in a Buick If one is sick to one’s stomach, we believe that is all the information one needs to share. Throwing up or vomiting are also perfectly good descriptive terms. It has been our experience, once that announcement has been made, everyone pretty much gets out of your way on the way to the lavatory. We reduce ourselves to the indelicacy of delineating regurgitation euphemisms for no other reason than it is an absolute playground for onomatopoetic words such as gurk, urp, and barf.
With one’s head stuck down the big white phone, one can talk to Earl, Ralph, or Cousin Sis, call Hughie or cry Ruth. Invariably, the most colorful are offered up by friends of the vomitee recounting the entire event to avid listeners: ? ash the hash, ? ay the fox, feed the ? sh, drive the Buick, bow to the porcelain altar, hug the throne, toss tacos, woof cookies, laugh at the carpet, launch one’s lunch, de-food, bestow a Technicolor yawn, heave Jonah, blow beets, park a custard, or go see the Duchess of York.
Evidently, there is bovine sub-category provision for the escalation of vomiting: to bison (be nauseated), yak (very nauseated), or water buffalo (throw up one’s toenails). Fit s, d i sease, ill health, in? rmity ,b on ? icti ns, af kdow rea such as Montezuma’s revenge, Dehli-belly, Mexican twostep, Spanish squirts, Botswana bop, or Cairo crud does nothing to improve international goodwill. Let’s face it, unless one is sitting on the edge of an examining table wearing nothing but a gaping hospital gown, “I am unwell,” is pretty much all anyone needs to tell. ,a w
Pussyfooting around The Curse When OTR (on the rag) or having that time of the month, few occurrences engender more verbal pussyfooting (again, no pun intended) than women’s troubles. Victorian ladies suffered from domestic af? iction. So general a term, however, could mean either the sink is stopped up or one’s husband is a cur. Today we seldom hear of the ? owers, ? oods, vapors, wretched calendar, or high tide. While weathering feminine complaint, then as now, not only can one entertain the general or ? y the red ? ag, one can have the painters in, a wet weekend, endure wall? wer week, or a visit from Aunt ? o. When the British have landed (wearing red coats), the Captain is at home and it is BENO time (there’ll be no fun). Inevitably, the onset of one’s menstrual period requires covering the waterfront by the wearing of a sanitary 57 product. It is preferable to specify perineal pad or tampon by brand name (Kotex, Tampax, etc. ), else one is left with a hopeless number of riding analogies: the cotton bicycle, red stallion, white sling, white horse, or fanny mattress. From a male point of view, this item is identi? d as peter-cheater or manhole cover which, while applicable, are in poor taste. Pleasure garden padlock sounds oh-so-re? ned, but we haven’t conjured an occasion when this, as a topic of general conversation, was. w Crawling Creatures When once only an accusation one screamed at the opposite sex at recess, cooties have become a renewed nuisance, not only to school children, but to the population in general. (There are those who blame this phenomenon entirely on the hippie generation. ) One would think such progress would have birthed a parallel vocabulary. That seems not the case.
Euphemisms for pediculosis, while dated, are interesting: light troops, active citizens, bosom chums, familiars, walking dandruff, intimate friends, and seam squirrels. 58 VNOTE: Lobby lice are found in hotels, but of the two-legged variety, not eight. 59 Genital or crab lice are crotch pheasants and pants rabbits. Lice are chats, hence, technically, a chatty person is not loquacious, but slovenly. That nightly admonition to not let them bite not withstanding, few of us ever encounter bedbugs anymore. To the Victorians, they were a fact of life, yet a troubling conundrum.
The more fastidious citizens of society refused to utter the word “bug” because of its unfortunate connotation (see The Love That Durst Not Speak Its Name). Hence, the pesky critters were known as gentlemen in brown, B-? ats, or Norfolk Howard (which may or may not reference either the War of the Roses or Flodden Field—far too obscure for a non-Anglophile to ascertain). w Social Diseases Disgraceful disorders refer speci? cally to gonorrhea (the clap) and syphilis (the pox). Other substitutes are: bad blood, nasty complaint, bone ache, foul disease, delicate taint, pintle fever, ? e down below, forget-me-not, Venus’ curse, and in? nite malady. Historically, however, such misfortune appears to have incited unlimited opportunity to disparage various ethnicities: French measles, Neapolitan favor, Spanish gout, Irish mutton, and Rangoon itch. 60 ail men t , attack s, bugs, coll apse, c om w Foul Emanations There once were two men in black suits who had trouble controlling their poots At lunch one ? nally said As the other nodded his head We should switch now from beans to fruits on? int, c pla nt, neme con Breaking Wind Should one befoul the air with an unduly emphatic noise, one has committed a rouser.
If one got by, it was a blind-fart also known the acronym SBD— silent but deadly. Anything in between is a back? re, backdoor trumpet, bad powder, buck-snort, or bathtub bubble. In addition, a whistle britches can suffer butter’s revenge or pocket thunder. 61 This is the rankest compound of villainous smell that ever offended nostril. Shakespeare Under these audible circumstances (if the dog is unavailable to blame), someone might have stepped on a frog, talked German (supposed guttural reference), cut a rusty, sliced the cheese, or shot rabbits.
If any of these aforementioned indiscretions occur and the offender does not know to look suspiciously at others, then that person does not deserve to inhabit polite society. As already observed, when one is beset by gastrointestinal disorder, there is little discretionary reaction time. We shall assume any sullying of the air, too, is inadvertent, giving all transgressors (you know who you are) blanket clemency. 62 on vale s cen There once was a wonderful wizard who had a great pain in his gizzard So he ate wind and snow at 50 below and farted a forty day blizzard. VFYI: Breaking wind was actually a great party trick n the Renaissance. Even Dante wrote of a fartiste who made a trumpet of his ass. At the turn of last century, a French nightclub performer, Joseph Pujol, reportedly plied his artistry in the Moulin Rouge. Although known to play O Solo Mio on the ocarina, his tour de force was an anal rendition of Claire de Lune. c ce, disability, disorde r, d ce, rban istu dose, fail ing Dog Breath If one’s breath is strong enough to carry coal, could fell a horse at twenty paces, or smells like the Chinese army has walked through one’s mouth in their sweat socks, one has halitosis. d ke cre ature sne a me .
So i ne o his mouth a atr int nd used it as a l all sm woodland 63 In the Privy w Calls of Nature In Elizabethan time, the place of ease was known as a jakes, this was eventually corrupted to ajax. Derivation of another more oft used term for the facilities, the loo remains under disagreement. Some like l’eau (French for water), others insist it lieu (as in “place”). Nonetheless, euphemisms for the room that contains a toilet can fall into two categories. In the ? rst, based on the concept of contrary connotation, we have bank, chapel, coffee shop, commons, counting house, cottage, library, of? e, parliament, Spice Island, or the temple. The less verbally discriminating, however, relieve themselves in a bog, cacatorium, can, compost hole, dilberry creek, dunny, forakers, john, necessarian, place where one coughs, siege-house, or stool of ease. In most places in Europe, one seeks the W. C. (water closet), which seems in? nitely more reasonable than in America’s restroom (where one may sit but does not necessarily rest). VFYI: Yes, the story is apparently true, there actually was a Thomas Crapper who invented a ? ush toilet. 65 w Wring Out One’s Socks
Our study has revealed a vast disparity between the number of euphemisms for male urination (lots) compared to those for female (zilch). This may well fall to the unquestionably ? ner sensibilities prevalent amongst the lady-folk. Either that or if one sits to release one’s bladder, it is a solitary, quiet event. There is very little associated activity once one has made certain the toilet seat is down. But he who has a penis with which to pee can even write his name in the snow—well, for argument’s sake, we suppose a woman could do it, but it would take a while.
Men can also take the snake for a gallop, siphon the python, shake hands with the bishop, point Percy at the porcelain, or train Terrance on the terracotta after which they can shake the dew off the lily. Either sex could give the Chinaman a music lesson, but in that few use china pots in which to tinkle anymore, it is generally obsolete. As an exit excuse to relieve themselves, men go water the horses, feed the gold? sh, see how high the moon is, kill a snake, chase a rabbit, drain the radiator, or check the ski rack. Women seem to just go to the “Ladies” to powder their noses (albeit a bit nonsensically, in pairs). 66 ?u , ind sposition, malady, ma laise , st pro ration OTE: There was a hunt-themed restaurant that initiated some baf? ed head-scratching among their patrons by labeling their respective restrooms, Pointers and Setters. VN ure, , seiz 67 syn Af? icted by Time’s Wing’d Chariot Be kind to your children, they will choose your nursing home. or those of us middle-aged (assuming everyone lives to be 110), a person of maturity has the dwindles, is a bit forward at the knees, long in the tooth, white-topped, blue-haired, rusting out, old as the hills, in one’s dotage, and no spring chicken, whiling away their time in God’s waiting room. F
CAUTION: Make very certain the senior citizen of whom one speaks is deaf as a post before one utters any of these little nuggets. Else, the person upon whom one remarks is always distinguished. He is alive, but only in the sense that he can’t be legally buried. Geoffrey Madan (subject of the observation unknown) w The Bucket Kick’d Are there any grander occasions to pull out all the stops, euphemistically speaking, than speculating on just where the dearly departed’s place of eternal rest will be? The late-lamented could land in Abraham’s bosom, be church triumphant, called to a higher service, or, less optimistically, stoking Lucifer’s ? es. Non-ecumenically, a quietus or an exitus could have occurred. Better judgment would insist (at least insofar as the eulogy) one avoid calling the deceased either worm food or buzzard meat. There appears to be a paradoxical inclination by the bereaved to insist said worm food to action when they have had a mortality experience (a term popular with the mortuary profession). Hence, we hear the dearly departed may suck grass, grin at daisy roots, buy the farm, give up the ghost, pay nature’s debt, pull a cluck, cash in one’s chips, fold one’s hand, coil one’s rope, drop off the hook,
Pardon My Dust Dorothy Parker’s epitaph by Dorothy Parker 70 Suicide is our way of telling God, you can’t ? re me—I quit. slip the cable, sun one’s moccasins, take the long count, jump the last hurdle, drop the cue, ride off on the last round-up, or answer the ever-lasting knock. The report of my death was an exaggeration. Mark Twain, after reading his own obituary, June 2, 1897 71 One of the funniest of Monty Python’s routines involved the return of a dead parrot, “Maybe he’s just shagged out after a long squawk—no, he’s bleeding demised, ceased to be, bereft of life, joined the choir invisible . . ” One can go wearing the Q (the death face rather coarsely delineated by comics—tongue lolling out the corner of the mouth), feet ? rst, toes up, eyes closed, heels foremost, face turned to the wall, on one’s shield, in a box, or in repose . . . whence one goes to the bone orchard. 72 G ender speci? c activity, femininity, manhood, manliness, masculinity, sexuality, womanhood, womanliness, intercourse between animate beings, coition, coitus, copulation, fornic ati intimacy, lovemaking, m on , en erat i on , m, p e agn g Bed is the poor man’s opera. Italian Proverb is reatio n, rel at roc ion p s, re xu ality, se roduction, sensu it y al A hard man is good to ? nd. Mae West 74 Bewitched, Bothered and Betwattled R Overborne by Desire Few, if any, still believe that only the male gender suffers from the pangs of lust. If proof be needed, the phenomena of Valentino, Elvis and Chippendale’s dancers provide full support for the theory that sexual appetence is an equal opportunity employer. Yet, regardless how prevalent its use, we again point out that the word horny, via horn, comes from a root word pertaining to the erect penis.
Therefore, for absolute accuracy, a woman may be just as lustful, dissolute, concupiscent, lascivious, libidinous, salacious, appetent, licentious, ribald, prurient, wanton, or humpy as a man, but, unless born a hermaphrodite, or completed gender reassignment, she will not be horny. Those terms describing the throes of excess cupidity can be gender speci? c and—however we wish they not—the examples that come to mind for men are pussy simple, cunt-struck and betwattled. Although a woman may have 75 A stiff prick has no conscience. Ancient Proverb ot pants or be cocksmitten, we prefer to say either is confounded by love (more likely confounded by lust, but it is not our place to proselytize). The unmistakable (and most conspicuous) concomitant of desire, however, is borne by the male: Penis in erectus. F Temporary Priapism Although it might initially sound like a Viagra high, a priapism (named after Priapus, a Greek and Roman god of male generative power) is a medical condition that manifests itself by an unrelenting erection which is quite painful 76 en der s and—here’s the catch—is unrelieved by sexual grati? cation. We will remark only upon the temporary kind.
Unlikely as it is to be referenced in one of Martha Stewart’s ? ne books, for procreative (or recreational) purposes everyone will agree that an erection is A Good Thing. However, if the little devil rears its head when copulation is merely on the mind but not imminent, it might prompt some explaining—something we did not ? nd indexed by Miss Manners either. If a rise in one’s Levi’s is espied by someone peripheral to the action, we advise the male in question to adopt an air of innocence and complain of an involuntary biological reaction. Genital tumescence, virile re? ex, and male arousal are equally non-accusatory terms.
All are preferable to hat rack, blue-veiner, clothes prop, tent peg, live rabbit, proud meat, horn colic, bit of a stiff, or sporting some wood—even if one is ready to dig post holes with it. VNOTE: Many men consider an inadvertent hard-on (an expression we do not endorse) as an unwitting condition and maintain, therefore, that they should not be held accountable for that over which they hold no control (see The Unruly Member). Certainly beyond one’s sway is morning pride, which, for exonerative purposes, can be identi? ed as matutinal erection. Indeed, if the male can convey an appropriately leepy-headed look, this excuse is good until noon. If one’s nocturnal erection is inexplicably relieved during the night, one has shot the bishop. 77 G p eci? c activity, femin inity, m an o d, ho man sc u , ma liness lin Another actual af? iction is erethism, an abnormal irritability or responsiveness to stimulation. Erethism (it too comes from Greek, but we did not ? nd any reference to the god of crankiness) is an actual disorder, which does give marginal credibility to the otherwise questionable assertion by some men that for arousal they need no more inducement than a stiff breeze.
One could propose either of these ailments as reason for undue . . . excitement, but both are a bit obscure. We suggest one assert oneself as constitutionally inclined to passion. It sounds a bit Edwardian, but far better than randy as a goat. Beware: If one needs to call upon this explanation while wearing nothing more than a trench coat, it is probable the police will look upon one’s suffering unsympathetically. The docket sheet will read lewd conduct, however, not weenie-wagger. Is that a gun in your pocket — or are you just glad to see me? Mae West 78 i nin ity, m anho fe od, manlines s, mas F cul i y, nit ner n, ge icatio forn Humbled in the Act of Love Alternately, if the male member remains ? accid regardless of encouragement, he is suffering from orgiastic impotence. He has not only failed in the furrow, he has no money in his purse, lead in his pencil, ink in his pen, nor toothpaste in his tube. When his ability is thus compromised, he is slack in his matrimonial duty or leaving the pillow unprest. The culprit is itself deadwood, a dangling participle, dolphin, ? ounder, lob-cock, half-mast, ? t tire, hanging Johnny, or Mr. Softy. at i o 79 The Long Carbine Whether one is endowed with a howitzer or peashooter, guns are, and always have been, phallic symbols. In the 17th century, ? intlock guns had a hammer, a ? int to produce a spark, a lockpan that held the priming powder and a main charge behind the musket ball. When the hammer was released, it hit a small ? int rock igniting a spark that lit the priming powder, and if all went as planned, then exploded the main charge. Sometimes this prehigh-tech procedure back? red and the priming powder ? shed but did not ignite the main charge. Hence a ? ash in the pan, but no shot was produced. If one had game (or the enemy) in one’s sights but needed time to aim, the hammer could be partially cocked. If the gun ? red while in this position, it went off halfcocked—no doubt a quite vexing and dangerous occurrence. 80 an hoo d, ma nliness, masc ul We recount all of this seeming arcane information only to provide background to fully understand the following: If one achieves an erection but one’s intention is thwarted by a premature ejaculation, one has gone off half-cocked, ? ed in the air, shot in the bush, mis? red, or has experienced a ? ash in the pan. Hanging ? re occurs when the priming powder initially failed to ignite the main charge. This term has come to be synonymous with indecision, not as some insist, a lengthy orgasm. These expressions have been bandied about for both sexual and non-sexual purposes for centuries. When we study their origins, they do make perfect sense. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. Attributed to Sigmund Freud m inity, fo rnic a tio 81 t io enera n, g x n, se lity ua
As much as it sounds as if it should be, we all know to peter-out is not necessarily a sexual innuendo. In fact, the dictionary de? nitions for peter are as follows: (1) to diminish, (2) to become exhausted, (3) a vulgar name for one’s penis, and (4) one of the twelve apostles. (Insomuch as one’s penis (3) diminishes (1) when it becomes exhausted (2), we will conclude that other than that the Apostle Peter (4) must have had one, he is irrelevant to this discussion). The French word pete means to explode weakly (also an expulsion of intestinal gas). Peter dans la main means literally, to come to nothing.
The Dictionary of Word Origins says that peter-out originated with miners in the mid-1800’s (an explanation of which, trust us, is even less relevant than the Apostle Peter). Regardless, what we do know is that to peter-out means to give out—be spent—and usually not with a bang (so to speak). Lest one’s lover be unconsoled, we suggest it is time to explore The French Arts. If one can get it up, but is sterile—? ring blanks, or engaging in a dry bob, one is improcreant. Agricultural sidebar For those unaware, when a horse and a donkey mate, their offspring is a mule, a hybrid.
This hybrid cannot reproduce; hence, one occasionally hears an improcreant male referred to as a mule. 82 Dallying, Firkytoodling, and Finkdiddling If one has the Jones for another, as a rule, one dares not jump their bones without ? rst introducing oneself. Under the right circumstances, small talk can be dispensed with, but it is reasonable to insist that if copulation is the goal, at least a little foreplay is in order. This is known as cano