December 3, 2008

Whore, who’s your daddy?

Posted in etymology, HotForWords, masturbation, whores at 10:26 am by prurientdiarist

When I wrote, I’ve known a few whores — and I don’t mean sellouts in the general sense. I mean those whose predecessors birthed this dirty word in a dirty alley centuries ago, I was tempted to digress into the origins of whore. Word origins intrigue me, and I love to guess at them before I look them up. One of my favorites is bonfire, which comes from bone fire, which is what it was called when the victims of the bubonic plague were stacked into a pile and set ablaze in hopes of curtailing the spread of the disease. *

BTW, I’d been told that the childhood rhyme Ring Around the Rosie has it’s origins in the plague years, but Snopes debunks that here. But you can see why people would think that:

Ring-around a rosie
A pocket full of posies
Ashes! Ashes!
We all fall down.

Line 1: Rosie = a red blemish on the skin. Think rosacea. This mark with a red ring around it was a indication that a person had been infected by the plague.

Line 2: The smell of decaying bodies was so bad that people would carry flower petals (I presume pockets was used in the rhyme for alliteration, but it’s conceivable that people kept them there) and hold them to their nose.

Line 3: It was standard practice to burn the bodies of plague victims.

Line 4: A pretty grim forecast, like the playground visions Sarah Connors had in Terminator. No future, indeed.

Anyway, I decided against searching out the origins of whore because the post already was shaping up to be pretty long, and, besides, it seems very appropriate to not know the lineage of a word that applies to a type of woman who, historically, could not know for certain who the fathers of her children are.

hotforwordsMarina. Not a whore. Definitely hot.

However, I have a huge crush on Marina of HotForWords, and I shamelessly confess to masturbating to her philology videos. I suspect I’m not the only one — smart women are a major turn on for many men. Perhaps I’ll ask her to put her hair in pigtails (mmmmm, pigtails), show a little cleavage, and talk about the origin of whore with that sexy accent of hers.

* Disclaimer: The college professor who told me about the origins of bonfire also told me about Ring Around the Rosie, so I’m probably going to have to look up bonfire to be certain.