Friday, January 2, 2009

Naughty etymology (3)

Last batch from the Dictionary of Obscenity and Taboo, I promise:

BULL [..] The term is one of many names for male animals applied to men which carry connotations of sexual ability. [..] In nineteenth-century America these words were considered positively indecent, and were avoided by those with pretensions to good breeding. Amazing as it now seems, bulls were then known by names such as cow creature and gentleman cow.

CONDOM [..] Certainly the idea of using a sheath for contraception predates the introduction of suitable rubber. Giacomo Casanova, for one, tested animal intestines for this purpose.

FILTH [..] In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries prostitutes were referred to as filth, but since then the epithet has been inexplicably transferred to policemen.

ARSE [..] In the reign of Queen Anne there was a fashionable game at court which involved one person deceiving another into asking a question to which the first could answer "my arse". For example, a lady might enter a room in apparent distress crying "It is white, and it follows me!" When asked what "it" was she would reply in triumph "my arse!"

KISS MY ARSE [..] For reasons which are, unfortunately, lost to history there are a number of place names in Cheshire which make reference to arse-kissing. Examples are Kiss Arse Hill at Rainow, and Kiss Arse Wood at Wincle.

PRICK [..] Prudery has been responsible for the omission of many ancient proverbs from supposedly comprehensive reference works. One such is the sagacious observation that "a standing prick has no conscience".



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