Bawdy Language

A sexual reference book like no other
Everything you always wanted to do but were afraid to say

Dr. Bawdy's counseling is wholly provided for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for qualified medical advice from a licensed healthcare professional. If you're dumb enough to take it, you'll just have to suffer the consequences.

Side effects may include bloated retina, collapsed vagina, anal rash, nasal drip, and double vision. Contact an emergency room psychologist for an erection lasting longer than 20 seconds.

Any further questions regarding individual circumstances should be directed towards your general practitioner/pharmacist/veterinarian. As to any contemplated legal action, tell your lawyer that Dr. Bawdy says he should simply "Fuck off!"

Posts for Origins of Sexual Words and Phrases


The Straight Up-and-Up

Tired of the  daily  grind  (19th–20thC), bored  with  doing  the  hori- zontalize (c. 1845)?  Not  to worry. We’ve  got more  ways  of doing it than Heinz  has  pickles;  more flavors than Baskin-Robbins. Why settle  for just vanilla sex  (1990s)?

You can  try  it nestled together spoon  fashion  (19thC), or,  if you’re really game, attempt a perpendicular (mid 19thC), also known  as an  upright  grand  (c. 1925).  It’s nothing more  than the old  three-penny bit (late  18th–20thC)—what the girls on the cor- ner once  featured as their standing bargain.

Though  a somewhat shaky  proposition, your standard knee- tembler (c. 1860),  otherwise known  as a quickie (20thC), was the perfect  answer to the man  on the run.  Ever a favorite  of the pros,  it has  failed to catch  on at home.  According  to Kinsey,  only four per- cent of married woman say that  they would  stand for it.


Impatient to get on with it? You might try having a dog’s  mar- riage  (19thC)  or  making a  dog’s  match   of  it  (19th–20thC)— doing it by the  wayside, down  and  dirty.  It, however, just  might take  longer  than you  think.  Dogs  have  been  known  to  be  linked together for hours on  end  after  the  sexual act.  The penis swells, and  the  muscles of the  female  contract, locking  the  penis within; thus  insuring that  not till death will they part.

It’s a  tough  act  to  follow,  but  you  could  possibly  try doing a dog’s  rig (mid  18th–19thC), defined  by  Grose  as  “sexual inter- course to exhaustion followed by back-to-back indifference.”

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Another dirty word – the ASS


The ass  is a dependable part that  holds  up its end of things.  As the seat  (19thC), it certainly knows  its place.

It would  be wrong, however, to think  it just rests  there.  This is a hard-working part  that  quietly  goes  about its business at  the  ori- fice,  functioning as  the  shithole  (19thC), the  brown  bucket (20thC), the dirt road  (early 20thC), and  the poop-chute (20thC). However, there’s little recognition paid its work, and  no more insulting a remark  than being called  “a fucking asshole.” Nothing personal, it’s just  one  person’s opinion, and  as  Dirty  Harry  Calla han   (Clint  Eastwood) reminded  us  in  The  Dead  Pool  (1988), “Opinions are like assholes; everybody has  one.”

Getting Off One’s Ass

The  entire  experience proved  so  puzzling, some  could  no  longer locate  what  they  were  looking  for. They  looked  to  the  backside (16thC), the  posterior (c.  1614),  the  rear  end  (c.  1920s)  or the behind (described in the  OED  as  something “in the  rear  of any- thing moving” or “the rear part of a person or garment”).

Not  knowing  where  else  to turn,  they  came  up  with  the  lower back  (late  19thC). Things  were  now  desperate. In  1912,  British papers recorded news  from South  Africa of a certain Lord Methuen who  had  been  wounded in  the  fleshy part  of  the  thigh.  Most thought this  all  very  ass   backward (or  bass  ackward, both 20thC), a somewhat strange expression used  to describe something that’s  askew  or out  of sync.  So too  with  the  expression itself,  ass- forward being a much  more accurate description of the condition.

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It’s not unusual to insult people by identifying them with their body parts. Calling someone a prick is a commonplace insult, but we reserve use of the expression for males of a particular character, and not for men in general. Cunt, on the other hand, is not only a term filled with contempt and disdain, but it is applied indiscriminately, regardless of the person’s character, insulting not only the person toward whom the remark is aimed, but all women everywhere.


Words Fail

Man has not only spoken ill of the cunt but has also described it in glowingly romantic terms. According to Karen Horney, the noted psychiatrist, this makes very good sense. Both approaches reflect man’s deep-seated dread of the female genitalia; each in a different way helps allay this fear. By making little of the cunt, he convinces himself that there is nothing to fear from so mean an object. Through its idealization he insures the unlikelihood of harm from so divine a being.

And we have no shortage of superlatives to describe it. We have everything from the dearest bodily part (Shakespeare) to the best part (Earl of Dorset), the best in Christendom (Rochester), and la belle chose (Chaucer). For some, it’s been just plain out of this world — as in heaven (18thC).



Yet that  nagging  fear  is always  there  beneath the  surface. It’s also  been  sheer hell  (18thC)  and  a  devilish thing  (18thC);  so much  so that  many  would  dispense with the  entire  matter by put- ting the Devil into  hell  (18thC).

Some  reserved judgment, as  did  John  Donne with  the  best- worst part. Others  extolled  it as a masterpiece and  featured it prominently as  the  star  (16thC), depicted ofttimes  as  pretty- pretty  (17thC)  and  indescribably quaint, as in Chaucer’s “Miller’s Tale”: “Full prively he caught her by the queinte.”3

At its lowest,  this cloven stamp of female distinction (18thC) has  been  reduced to a suck-and-swallow, a man  (or fool)  trap, a butter  boat,  an oystercracker, and  sperm-sucker (19thC). At the same  time, it’s been  elevated to a position of power as the control- ling  part (19thC)  and  the regulator (late 18thC–19thC).

It’s almost  as though they forgot its more mundane functions as the  water  box  (19thC), or streamstown (c. 1820–90), the  gener- ating  or brat-getting place (19thC), the nursery, and  the bath  of birth (early 20thC).

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Language describing woman has also traditionally joined dirtiness with sex. Words describing her as slovenly and untidy made her immoral as well, inferring that sloppy women were as derelict in their morals as they were in appearance. Man meanwhile got off clean.


A case in point is the evolution of the slut (14thC) or slattern (17thC). She started life innocently enough as a slovenly woman, speaking more to her messiness than her morals. But she soon developed a playful side. Samuel Pepys wrote in his diary: “Our little girl Susan is a most advanced slut and pleases us mightily.” It was then but a short jump to impudence and then to you know what. As Henry Fielding noted, “I never knew any of these forward sluts to come to good.” Indeed. A hundred years later Dickens told us exactly what she had become, “a slut, a hussy.”


A Class by Herself

Her reputation was further suspect as a woman of a certain class (19thC).5 Bunters (18th–19thC) picked up the rags from the streets, scrubbers (early 20thC) cleaned and washed, and doxies (16th–18thC, from the Dutch docke, a “doll or dolly, a mistress or prostitute”) accompanied those who begged for a living. The trollop (17th–19thC) was a coarse and vulgar street person. Everyone knew the tramp and her friends for what they were. Class distinctions always made it easy to identify them, though the hoity-toity wench (late 17th–early 19thC) didn’t know her place.


Not only was it traditional to treat lower-class women like dirt, but to further characterize them as lewd. Lewd once referred to anyone not belonging to the holy orders, hence unlearned and unteachable.


The language claimed many an innocent victim in this fashion.

No more Slut Bullying.

Use other words.

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In and  around the locker room there’s  little talk of breasts, but lots of conversation about tits.


A woman has bosoms, a bust, or a breast,

Those lily-white swellings that bulge ’neath her vest

They are towers of ivory, sheaves of new wheat,

In a moment of passion, ripe apples to eat.

You may speak of her nipples as small rings of fire

But by Rabelais’ beard, she’ll throw fifteen fits

If you speak of them roundly as good honest tits.

—“Ode to Those Four-Letter Words”

Read more – “Bawdy Language,” the Book


The device is said to draw its name from the mysterious Dr. Condom or Conton, a physician at the court of Charles II (c. 1660–1685) who allegedly created the item to help put a cap on His Majesty’s growing number of illegitimate children. Students of that period, though, have been unable to locate the good Doc- tor, and they’re not even sure he really existed.

Other theories regarding the origin of the word range from a Colonel Condum in the Royal Guard to Condom, a town in Ger- many recorded as a fortress of considerable strength, to an oilskin case that held the colors of the regiment (18th–early 19thC). Some think the word may even be a unique blend of cunnus (for the female pudenda) and “dum” or “dumb”—together rendering the organ incapable of functioning.

Another  claim  regarding the  invention of the  condom, and  its first published description, was made  by Gabriello Fallopio (1523–1562)—whose name is most  closely  associated with  the Fallopian tubes—in De Morbo  Gallico, published two years  after his   death,  in  which   he   encouraged  use   of  linen   sheets  as condoms.

Letter Perfect

The  condom achieved its  greatest popularity during  the  seventeenth and  eighteenth centuries, often appearing in print  as c-d-m and  frequently spoken of as a letter  (French, Italian, or Spanish,  the  letter  and  envelope being  virtually  one),  a form of correspondence which absolutely, positively, had  to be there  overnight.

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M’lady’s privates consist of a number of parts.  Those which are featured most prominently are the vulva1 (c. 1548,  Latin for “wrapper”), and  the  vagina2  (c.  1682,  Latin  for “sheath”). However, the whole world knows  them  better  collectively  as the cunt.

Cunt  is a  grand  old  word,  not  underground, not  slang.  You’ll find  variations of it in  Old  and  Middle  English,  Middle  Low and Low German, Old  Norse,  and  Dutch. For  years,  it was  believed that  cunt  derived  from cunnus, the Latin word for the female  genitals,  but  no one  could  explain how the  t got into  cunt.  It was  left for Eric Partridge to discover the word as related to the Old English cwithe,  “womb,”  finding  the  root  of the  matter in  cwe,  (or  cu), which  signifies  “quintessential  physical femininity”—a root  that appears in  a  host  of words  from  “cradle”  and  “cow”  to  “queen” and  “cunning.”

Cunt  has  been  taboo in  writing  and  in  speech since  the  fifteenth  century.  Between   1700   and   1959   it  was   considered obscene, and  it was a legal offense  to print  it in full.

No ordinary four-letter word,  cunt’s  always  been  rather special. It’s a “sexual  energizing  word,”  one  which,  according to Partridge, conveys “the sexual pleasure produced by a woman in a man  and indeed all  that  woman-as-sex signifies  to  a  man  both  physically and  spiritually.”


It’s a cavern of joy you are thinking of now A warm, tender field just awaiting  the plow.

It’s a quivering pigeon caressing your hand

Or that sweet little pussy  that makes  a man stand

Or perhaps it’s a flower, a grotto, a well, The hope of the world, or a velvety  hell.

But friend, heed this warning,  beware the affront

Of aping a Saxon:  don’t call it a cunt.

—“Ode to Those Four-Letter Words”

Read more – “Bawdy Language,” the Book



The  fart’s  fine  lineage  not  withstanding, other  reference works have  been  more  standoffish. The esteemed Oxford  English  Dictionary unequivocally declared fart “not  fit for proper  use.”  Nobody knows  why the  OED  chose  to close  down  this  innocuous form of personal expression or how the  decision was made. One  can  only imagine  a group  of eminent scholars gathered in their  ivory tower, deliberating upon  the  fate  of words,  having  a  beer  or  two,  and shooting the breeze.


“Personally, I favor letting off some  rectal steam.” “No, no! I much  prefer an anal  escape of wind.”

“Really gentlemen, it’s hard  to top voiding wind from the bowels.” “All in favor of the fart…”

And so the fart fell from grace—expelled from polite society  and relegated to second-class status. Farting  around (c. 1900)  came to signify purposelessness; anything overly  pretentious was  arty- farty.”  Farting  off  (c.1968) made  you  inattentive and  neglectful, leading  to one blunder after another, causing you to fart away (c.1928) or squander your opportunities.

The  Random  House  Dictionary  of the English  Language  defined a fart as  “an  irritating  or foolish  person.” One  in his  dotage  was written  off as an  old  fart. Worthless items  and  activities were not worth  a fart in a windstorm (both  20thC). And when  your  mind went  blank  and  you  did  something incredibly dumb, or  experienced an  inexplicable aberration in  your  software  program, you had  a brainfart (c. 1983).  “I normally remember my social  security number, but I had  a brainfart.”

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We’re  most  nuts  about our  balls (10thC), the  term  by  which  we know  them  best.  Balls  have  demonstrated  exceptional versatility and  service  to the  language. If you’re looking  for courage, look no further.  It takes  balls to acquit yourself  like a man,  often balls the size of  watermelons. Even  Hemingway’s heroes required real cojones (Spanish for balls) in order  to show  grace under pressure. Ever  so necessary, they’re  unfortunately not  always  sufficient. As Fast Eddie  Felson  (Paul  Newman) reminded Vince (Tom Cruise)  in The Color of Money  (1986):  “You’ve got to have  two things  to win. You’ve got to have  brains and  you’ve got to have  balls. You’ve got too much  of one and  not enough of the other.”

Newspapers seldom  have  balls in  such  matters. As part  of a policy adopted in 1993–94, The San Francisco Chronicle sup- presses even the hints  it formerly gave readers to “offensive”  words (e.g. sh-t  or a—hole), choosing now to either  omit them  altogether or use  in  their  stead “cute”  equivalents, such  as  “Spaldings” (a trade  name for sports  equipment) for balls.

The oldest  English  word for the testicles that  we have  on record is the  beallucas (before  10thC). We  later  had  the  ballokes (c. 1382)  or  ballocks and  the  verb  to  ballock (19th–20thC), from which  we got our  “Ballocky  Bill the  Sailor”—a  ballsy old  salt  if there  ever was one.  Time and  his yearning for acceptability would mellow him into the children’s favorite,  Barnacle Bill, with hardly  a hint of his salacious character.

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Truly ballsy but also somewhat bollixed or balled-up were the Skopts,  a religious  sect at the time of Catherine II and  Alexander I, which  initiated new  members into  the  cult  by  searing  their  balls with a hot  iron.  For some  unexplained reason, the  sect  died  out— but  their  rites  lived  on,  entering the  language as  our  “baptism of fire.”

Balls  have  also served  us well as an important interjection, part of our long-standing tradition of using the better  half of the body to register  emotion. They express surprise and  exasperation (“Nuts!”) as well as incredulity and  disappointment (“Nonsense!”).

“Baloney!”  you  say?  As Partridge reminds us,  that  word  comes not from the sausage but from the Gypsy pelone—for balls.

Functionally speaking, it would  be difficult to imagine  the sports world  without balls.  Absolutely critical  to most  of our games,  they are governed by definite  rules  as to their use.  It’s proper  for men  to play  ball  with  balls  provided by  management, but  it’s forbidden that  they  play  with  their  own  balls. And when  a ball  bounces up and  hits the catcher in the balls, it is said to “ring his bell,” though the sound is that  of a dull thud  followed by a shrill cry.

Hedy Lamarr: “I’ll meet you in front of the pawn shop.”
Bob Hope: “Okay, Dottie, and then you can kiss me under the balls.”
—Sketch on The Pepsodent Radio Show.
(Hope’s line in the script was a simple “Okay.”)

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