Welcome to The Mad Logophile. Here, we explore word origins, evolution and usage. Words are alive: they are born, they change and, sometimes, they die. They are our principal tool for communicating with one another. There are over one million words in the English language yet only an estimated 171,476 words are in common current use. As a logophile, I enjoy discovering new words, using them and learning about their origins. Please join in.
Well now, where were we.... Sorry for the long break. I was feeling overwhelmed and had to prioritize. Between the last new TML and now, I was doing some processing, evaluating and re-discovering. After my Mom died last November (09) I was involved in a car accident which broke my sternum. Long story short, I had to do a lot of sublimating of my emotions. Then, last August 7th, something helped me break the logjam. Since then, I've been doing the things I used to love one at a time, seeing if I still love them, then integrating them back into my life. I apologize that this diary series was one of those things. I am so gratified to have people who actually care about this diary series and my appreciation for those who follow it and me knows no bounds. Future diaries should be bi-weekly but may go to monthly (we'll see how it goes) but TML is definitely back! Thank you a million times over for your patience and support.
As I stated in the first of these diaries on Sex Words: Okay folks, this week we're getting down and dirty. Really down and dirty. But we are all adults here so we can deal with *gasp* TEH SEX. Right? Some of the words and phrases in this diary are pretty hardcore. So if that bothers you, you should probably give us a pass this time. If your heart can handle it, though, follow me below the fold into the XXX world...
Last time we covered words that dealt with anatomy, sexual preference, toys and fetishes. This week I'm kind of batting clean-up (as it were) and trying to catch words that fell through those definitions. So, here we go alphabetically...
Adultery: Technically, this is intercourse with someone who is not your partner. That can mean a spouse or life-partner. Some people expand this to include any sexual activity, including on-line or phone sex.
Age Of Consent: The age at which one is considered to be able to have consensual sex. This age can vary widely from culture to culture but is usually 18 for legal purposes.
Aphrodisiac: A substance that is purported to stimulate desire. Most foods considered to be aphrodisiacs are phallic or yonic in shape. Foods from the sea fall into this category because of the association of the goddess Aphrodite and the sea from which she arose. Modern aphrodisiacs are often misrepresented and can even be harmful. Stick with the old-fashioned ones ;)
Birth Control: Simply a method of preventing conception. There are various ways of doing this. Birth Control Pills came on the market in the early 1960s and changed sexuality for good. Up until then mostly barrier methods were used. These include condoms, the diaphragm, cervical cap, the sponge and some spermicides. Ancient women used everything from orange rinds (as a diaphragm) to odd concoctions (honey and crocodile dung, anyone?) as a spermicide.
Basiexia: Female sexual stimulation just from kissing. When men get an erection merely from kissing it is called basorthosis. We're talking some darn good kissing, here ;)
BEM, Bum, Beauty: Slang shorthand for the ingredients of the perfect cover of a pulp fiction magazine from the 1930s and 40s, i.e. A Bug-Eyed-Monster battling a Bum (spaceman) to protect a Beauty.
Blue Balls: Yes, it is real. Men really can get an ache in the testicles due to not ejaculating after intense arousal. But don't invoke it too often, Gentlemen...
Blue Movie: A synonym for a pornographic film. Also: Hard-core film, nudie film, soft-core film, stag movie, x-rated film.
Bodice Ripper: A romance novel, often in a period setting, that is described as "five parts sex, one part history." Typified by the novel Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor. The modern romance industry despises this term, BTW.
Brewer's Droop: Impotence caused by alcohol consumption.
Brothel: A house of prostitution. There is an element of romance connected to the idea of a brothel, especially those in European capitals. In high-class brothels, the clientele are wealthy and are offered discreet services which include meals and entertainment, not just sex. Also: bordello, whorehouse, cathouse, callhouse, maison close, bawdy house, house of ill-repute.
Buffet Flats: (pronounced with a hard "t") A combination of speakeasy, brothel, hotel, casino and bar. When African-Americans were still barred from white-only establishments, these were where they would go to spend a few bucks on a good time. They offered whores, sex shows, porn, gaming, drinking, drugs and, most important, anonymity. Called buffet flats because they offered it all, a real buffet of vice.
Camel Toe: An unfortunate fashion faux pas where too-tight pants clearly outline the labial lips resulting in a look-alike to the animal part it is named after.
Carte de France: Colorful name (literally "map of France) for the stain left on sheets by dried semen.
Casting Couch: The practice of trading sexual favors for professional success. Said to be common in Hollywood. I'm not sayin' it's so but upon signing a contract with MGM, Marilyn Monroe is reputed to have said, "That's the last cock I'll ever have to suck."
Cheesecake: Erotic but not pornographic photos, drawings, etc. of women. We ladies have beefcake to make us happy.
Coney Island Whitefish: Slang for a discarded condom found floating in the water off of Coney Island, NYC. Adapted for various other places by the locals, as in [your locale here] whitefish.
Cottaging: British slang for hanging out in public restrooms for the purposes of gay sex. So-named because toilet buildings often resemble small cottages. Also tea-rooming for similar reasons.
Cougar: An older woman with a sexual predilection for younger men, often young enough to be her son. Seemingly popular these days.... hmm....
Dirty Dancing: Besides being a popular film, this describes dances - mainly Latin dances - that require erotic physical contact. These include the classic Tango, Paso Doble, merengue, et. al. and modern dances like the lambada.
Diver: Slang for a person who enjoys giving oral sex. The character of Dick Diver, in F. Scott Fitzgerald's Tender Is The Night exemplifies the author's ambivalence about himself according to scholars. The character's name not only foreshadows his failure but also means "cocksucker." Someone who enjoys giving cunnilingus is a muff diver.
Ecdysiast: Synonym for stripper. Coined by H.L. Mencken for stripper Gypsy Rose Lee. From the Greek ekdusis meaning "to slough off skin."
Fluffer: A female employed on the set of a porn film whose job it is to keep the male actors erect during breaks in filming.
Fuck Buddy: A friend whom one can call for occasional casual sex with no emotional attachments. Also: friends with benefits, sport fucking.
Fuzoku: Japanese term for commercial sex. It covers prostitution, pornography, peep shows, X-rated movie houses.... anything sex-related that can be a business. Literally, "affiliated, annexed, associated, attached, auxiliary, belonging."
Gigolo: A male escort, usually offering sex as well as companionship. From the French gigole, "prostitute."
Glory Hole: A hole that has been cut in a wall or partition (usually in a Peep Show booth) through which a man sticks his penis to be fellated or masturbated. It's possible that in places where women were scarce, this service was performed by other men.
Go-Go Dancers: In the swinging 60s, hip nightclubs employed these dancers who would shimmy and shake in cages or on pedestals. Usually female, they were scantily clad and what clothing they did wear often featured fringe. And then there were boots....
Going Commando: Not wearing any underwear. The US Army Special Forces apparently do not wear underwear when on combat missions so as to avoid "crotch rot." Or so the story goes. The term is used mostly by men but can apply to women.
Groupie: A girl who follows a particular rock group or performer. If she's lucky, she is part of the entourage and provides sexual favors to the object(s) of her affection. Though rarer, there are jazz groupies as well. Pamela des Barres is a groupie who found fame with her tell-all book I'm With The Band.
Hamedori: Japanese porn films in which the cameraman and performer are the same man. The preferred partner is an inexperienced or amateur performer.
Hard-Core: Pornography that shows full frontal nudity and penetration, among other things. Usually denoted in the adult entertainment industry with the appellation "XXX." Soft-core porn is arguably more artfully done and shows neither full frontal nudity nor any penetration. The latter is sometimes referred to as erotica.
Hentai: Sexually explicit or pornographic comics and animation of Japanese origin. The term is only used outside of Japan, where hentai has a negative connotation of perversion. Yaoi is specifically for gay men while yuri is the lesbian form.
Honey Sweat: A rather romantic term for the sweat that covers one after sex on hot tropic afternoons. Coined by Lawrence Durrell in his book, Justine. Not very well-known but one of my favorites.
Honey Trap: A term used by intelligence/espionage for the use of sexual favors to recruit, blackmail or gain information.
Hooker: A female prostitute. The term is not derived from camp followers of Civil War General Joe Hooker, though that legend continues to hang on. It probably came from the practice of street prostitutes' grabbing of potential customers by hooking arms with them.
Hot Lunch: A sexual encounter occurring at mid-day or thereabouts. Also know as a nooner. A coffee break is an assignation at mid-morning or afternoon. Afternoon delight is just that and has been forever sullied by the treacly song of the same name.
Hot Pants: Very short shorts. They became fashionable in the early 70s as an alternative to the miniskirt. Street hookers still consider them to be fashionable. Hot pants is also a term applied to sexually active women as in "having hot pants."
Hung: As a measure of penis size, the degree of "hungness" can range from "moderately" to "well" to "enormously." Size can also be compared to animals as in "hung like a horse" or (poor fellow) "hung like a hamster." But we ladies know that isn't the whole story ;)
Ice: The sexual uses of ice are varied: if held in the mouth during oral sex, it is said to increase pleasurable sensations. Models and actresses use ice to make their nipples erect for filming or photo shoots. One sex therapist suggests that a bag of crushed ice be applied to the testicles at orgasm... probably something you should check out with your partner beforehand. Just to prevent any misunderstandings.
Jazz: An African-American Southern slang term for sex. The music played in brothels - and the performers who played it - was identified with the word. And the rest, as they say.... Performer names like Jelly-Roll Morton also alluded to sex, jelly being slang for female genitalia. Jazz slang for a penis is pig foot - as in Bessie Smith's "gimme a pig foot and a glass of beer."
Kept Woman: A mistress of a man who provides her with a home, car, etc. for which he receives regular sexual favors. He is often called her Sugar Daddy.
Lap Dancing: Popular form of erotic dance in which the performer is up-close and personal. This usually involves being on the table in front of the customer, close enough to touch. But that is rarely allowed.
Legion of Decency: Religious watchdog groups are nothing new and the Moral Majority is the ideological child of this group which was very powerful between 1034 and 1955, particularly when it came to Hollywood. It began as a Catholic organization though it changed its designation to "National" soon after it was founded. Though Will Hays created the Production Code (see below) in Hollywood, the Legion became the arbiter of that Code when LOD founder Joseph Breen became the head of the Office. The LOD was eventually absorbed into the US Catholic Conference.
Limerick: A five-line poem - with a rhyming scheme of AABBA - that originated in Ireland. There is a long tradition of obscene limericks and I'm sure most of us know at least one. If you don't, look here .
Lolita: From the book of the same name by Vladimir Nabokov, used to describe a sexually attractive young girl. Nabokov didn't like this use of his title/character, insisting that what he meant by nymphet was a sense of being unformed. But writers like Simone de Beauvoir adopted both nymphet and Lolita to describe sexy young women. It's a good thing that Nabokov wasn't around for the whole Long Island Lolita debacle.
Loop: A short pornographic film. Before video production exploded the availability of porn films, this was the standard form of porn available. Usually seen in a Peep Show booths but occasionally appearing at stag parties. A loop runs 9 minutes (the length of one reel of 35mm film) and Peep Show patrons paid by the minute. Major production centers were New York, Hollywood and San Fransisco.
Love Hotel: A hotel that specializes in hourly room rates for sexual assignations. Popular in the US, they are a near-necessity in Japan where space is at a premium and space away from parents even more so. Hotels in Japan - known as kyukei - offer amenities such as vibrating beds, in-room videos, oils, sex aids, etc. Some even have themed rooms for specialized sex play. They sound much nicer than the usual American no-tell motel.
Macho: Spanish word that describes manly characteristics, usually exaggerated. A macho man has has an overtly masculine and virile attitude and demeanor, or machismo. It is especially ingrained in Latin cultures. Macho and teh gay are intertwined in an interesting way, as this article in the Village Voice explains.
Massage Parlor: A rather anachronistic term for an establishment that offers sex under the guise of therapy (but who's to say that sex isn't?). Erotic massage in this context always has a happy ending. Up until recently, real massage parlors had to deal with this misnomer. Most of them now use the term spa to avoid any confusion.
Meat Rack: A place where one can go to pick up sexual partners, usually for a one-night stand. A term mostly used among the gay community. The original meat rack was Piccadilly Circus in London.
Merkin: A pubic toupee. It was originated among prostitutes who had to shave their pubic area due to vermin. It was also popular among men who had received treatment for syphilis as the cure, mercury, made the hair fall out. It eventually developed into a decorative item. It is also used to describe a man who dates and/or marries a lesbian so that she can appear to be heterosexual.
Mile-High Club: A member "joins" by having sex in an airplane. Popularized by the film Emmanuelle. Rather hard to join nowadays with the current paranoia about bathrooms being occupied for too long in-flight. One more thing we lost due to terrorism...
MILF: Acronym for Mothers I'd Like To Fuck. Denotes a sexually attractive older woman. Humorously taken to the extreme by Andy Samberg and Justin Timberlake.
Minsky's: New York City burlesque house which operated from 1912-1937. It was considered the creme de la creme of such establishments. Owner Billy Minsky adopted Parisian ideas such as themed shows and a runway extending into the audience. Stripper Gypsy Rose Lee was a regular performer at Minsky's.
Money Shot: Male ejaculation in a porn film. Considered to be the only way to show that the act depicted is "real" (ah, Lala Land and its wonderful pseudo-definitions). Also: come shot, proof shot.
Naturism: A lifestyle which advocates the healthy virtues of nudity. The preferred term rather than nudism. The modern movement began in Germany in 1903 and found its way to America in 1929. Contrary to some beliefs, a naturalist resort is not a hotbed of sex and vice. To the contrary, a high moral tone marks a true naturist club: alcohol and sex being forbidden and families preferable to individuals. The naturist lifestyle is still practiced worldwide. It even has its own magazine. The inevitable nudie films exploited naturism for prurient interest.
One-night Stand: A sexual encounter with a stranger lasting for one night (or day). It was adapted from the show business term for one performance at a particular stop. In the double standard of our society women who have one-night stands are seen as sluts while men who do the same are celebrated. Go figure....
Orgy: Originally a religious rite, associated particularly with the worship of Dionysus or Bacchus. Nowadays it refers to an uninhibited group activity, usually sex.
Peep Show: A "theater" where patrons can watch loops or live performers. The peep refers to the short time period which the viewer is allowed to watch, decided by how much and how often he feeds the coin slot (bill slot now). The first peep show was a Kinetoscope in penny arcades. After WWII, booths were provided at adult bookstores, first for watching loops then, later, for live performers.
Penthouse: Playboy magazines dirty little brother. Started by Bob Guccione in the late 50s, it offered a different, more "European" outlook from its competitor. Guccione tried branching out into other magazines and films and his magazine eventually took a turn into the raunchy, prompting him to finally file for bankruptcy in 2004. The new owners diversified onto the Internet and, ironically, a Christian dating service.
Phone Sex: A sexually explicit phone conversation usually for the express purpose of masturbation. These became a huge industry in the late 1980s when the 900 number was first offered. Regulations were tightened in 1996 due to unauthorized calls by children (!!). The worker usually adopts a character or sets up a theme to suit the caller. There is an enduring idea that most phone sex workers are anything but what they want their callers to envision.
Pimp: A person who procures prostitutes. The popular vision is of a man who manages a small stable of hookers, living off of their salary. While the pimp does prey, sometimes violently, on women they are tolerated by the prostitutes because they act as a go-between. They pay the bribes and bail and protect the women from rival pimps. Because some pimps live extravagantly, their clothes, cars and accouterments became a style. Pimping now can mean refurbishing someone/thing in such a style (Pimp My Ride, et.al.). It can also mean to promote someone/thing as in "pimp my diary." ;)
Pinup: An image of a beautiful woman, often provocatively posed, suitable for display. Like on a calendar, for example. The term is attributed to Walter Thornton, who ran a large modeling agency in NYC. The quintessential classic pinup is someone like Betty Grable, Rita Hayworth or Marilyn Monroe.
Playboy: The magazine for Gentlemen began publication in 1953 when Hugh Hefner put the first issue together in his living room. The cover photo of Marilyn Monroe became legend and an empire was born. At its height in 1972, circulation peaked at 7 million. Hefner branched out to the Playboy Clubs and, eventually, film production and a TV network. The Playboy empire is now run by Hefner's daughter. A similar magazine for women, Playgirl (started in 1973), has no affiliation.
Pole Dancing: Popular form of exotic dancing in which a dancer uses a metal pole as the nexus of her routine. Some of them are very skilled and it has become an almost respectable vocation for trained dancers. It even has enthusiasts who have brought it into the home and extol its virtues as a form of exercise. There is even a school for pole dancing.
Porn Creep: No, its not the weird guy who hangs out by the adult bookstore. It is a psychological condition in which a reliance on pornography causes impotence with a partner. It also describes the process in which explicit content enters popular culture, inuring us to such imagery.
Production Code: By 1934, there was a public outcry against what was seen as illicit imagery produced by filmmakers in Hollywood (and elsewhere). To prevent Government control of their industry, filmmakers instituted this moral code. Its first supervisor was Will Hays (see Legion of Decency, above), an ex-Postmaster who headed the Motion Picture Producers and Distributors of America (which later became the MPAA). Hays was a puritan and imposed his beliefs on the Code. One has only to read it and it becomes very clear that Mr. Hays had some serious issues. Under Joseph Breen (LOD), the Code became even stricter (I know!). When, in 1953, the courts forced the studios to surrender control of movie houses, they no longer had the power to enforce the censorship of the Code. It makes for interesting and amusing reading.
Red Light District: The part of a city where brothels and prostitutes are to be found. The name comes from the customary display of red lamps in the windows of the brothels and cribs. Also: Storyville from the red light district of New Orleans.
Rent Boy: A young male prostitute. The term recently came into prominence because of Christian leader George Rekers, who "rented" a boy from the eponymous website to take with him on a European vacation.
Sewing Circle: In the 1920s-1940s, a group of powerful women in Hollywood formed a social group. They adopted this term, which was originally exactly what it says it is, but came to be a cover term for lesbian power circles. It is said that the founder of the Hollywood Sewing Circle as Greta Garbo. Other members included Marlene Dietrich, Tallulah Bankhead, Judy Garland, Joan Crawford, Katherine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck, Nancy Culp and Agnes Moorhead.
Slash Fiction: Amateur pornography, often by and for women, which imagines popular culture male pairs as gay lovers. It can be traced back to Star Trek fanfic of such a relationship between Captain Kirk and Mr. Spock. The idea soon spread to other cultural duos such as Batman/Robin, Starsky/Hutch and others. It then branched out to hetero couples (Mulder/Scully, for example). The cast of Blake's 7 was so disturbed by slash involving their characters that they tried to have it banned, to no avail. The Internet makes such a venture impossible.
Stag Movie: Originally a loop that is viewed at a stag party. The term came to denote any short pornographic film.
Streaking: To run naked through a crowd of people, often at an event like a football game. Lady Godiva may have been the original streaker. Streaking enjoyed a vogue in the mid-70s, even spawning a comedy song . A Liverpudlian named Mark Roberts claims to hold the world record of 400 streaks including one at the 2006 Winter Olympics.
Striptease: An erotic form of dance in which the dancer slowly removes her clothes. Its origins are debated as women have done this for ages. But Salome's dance of the seven veils is the first written instance. Striptease was a staple of burlesque, Lili St. Cyr and Gypsy Rose Lee being two of its stars. The bump and grind, tassels and other imaginative extras became part of the basics of the dance. The striptease has never faded in popularity: though burlesque itself died, the striptease moved into bars and clubs and is still a staple of such establishments.
Tattoo: Starting as a tribal custom, the tattoo has become a fetish and a symbol of sexual empowerment for some. In the 60s it became fashionable for women to get a small tattoo in a discreet location. Discretion has become passe' and tattoos are now out in the open. The tramp stamp is a tattoo placed at the base of the spine.
Tijuana Bible: A small comic (pocket-sized) of a pornographic nature, often starring popular characters. So called because that was where they were supposedly printed. They were crudely drawn imaginary exploits of movie stars, comic book characters and even public figures. They were published into the 1990s by enthusiasts but the classic period is considered to be the 1920s-about 1970.
Vamp: A woman who practices seduction, usually flagrantly. The quintessential vamp was Theda Bara. The term is short for vampire and first appeared as such in the 1910 play A Fool There Was. It is also a verb meaning to exercise such seduction.
Video: The impact of the video camera and home tape player on the porn industry cannot be overstated. Before the format became easily obtainable in the late 1970s, pornography was limited to paper and film. Film was expensive both to produce and to view, needing pricey equipment for either. Video, once it was widely available to the consumer, completely changed things. Now people could view pornography in the privacy of their own homes. Not only watch, but make their own! Not only did video change the method of viewing porn but also the make-up of its audience. Women now became viewers both with men and alone. Within a few years of the introduction of video, 33% of adult videos were being rented by couples and 21% by single women. Now the Internet has helped to spread video porn even further. And I don't think that we have seen the least of what that technology will do to the nature of pornography and the industry that creates it.
Okay, now it's your turn. Any interesting words we should know about? Chime in below...