This week, the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) is out with its latest update. Among its crop of over 600 new words, phrases, and senses, some sweary entries flashed us the come-to-bed eyes on Strong Language—and we don’t mean continental grip, dead rubber, or additions to the many meaning of come, as suggestive as they may sound. From mild abuses to sexual euphemisms to derogatory slang, we’ve got the highlights here.
n. slang. Sexual intercourse without a condom. In later use frequently spec. unprotected anal sex between men.
1963 T. I. Rubin Sweet Daddy 110 Some of them use rubbers. But most guys want bareback.
1976 R. Price Bloodbrothers iii. 42 She takes her clothes off..and whips out a bag. Awright, I prefer bareback, but it’s for my protection too, you know?
1997 Online Personal Advt. in M. Signorile Life Outside (1998) i. iii. 129 A sampling of..online profiles indicates the degree of seriousness: ‘I like doing my pounding bareback—Don’t IM..if not interested in bareback!’
2003 Mail on Sunday (Nexis) 2 Feb. I can give any potential partners the choice as to whether to continue with bareback knowing the consequences or to use a condom.
2016 Evening Standard (Nexis) 9 June I never do bareback… I always had safe sex but not oral sex with condoms.
v. intr. To have sexual intercourse without using a condom (in later use, chiefly with reference to unprotected anal sex between men). Also trans. with person as object.
2000 Guardian 14 Mar. ii. 3/3 Lots of people are barebacking.
2002 Queensland Pride 12 Apr. 5/3 14 percent [of gay and bisexual men familiar with the term ‘barebacking’] reported that they had barebacked at least once during the past 2 years.
2005 in P. N. Halkitis et al. Barebacking 99 Sometimes I’ll negotiate barebacking a guy if he is on the bottom, but if I am on the bottom, I always make them use a condom.
2016 THIS Mag. Jan. 11/1 The notion of two men barebacking sends a very different and decidedly less wholesome message than gay wedding announcements in the weekend papers.
n. slang (orig. and chiefly N. Amer.) (derogatory) a homosexual man.
1989 P. Munro U.C.L.A. Slang 27 Butt pirate, homosexual male.
2002 Out Mar. 102/1 The same people who one week would call me a ‘fag’ or ‘butt pirate’ would the next week be shoving me into lockers.
2010 M. Sloan High before Homeroom 245 Spent it on drugs, that little butt pirate. Not that I have a problem with gay guys.
n. (a term of abuse for) an insignificant, unscrupulous, or contemptible person (cf. wrastler, variant of wrestler n.).
1954 R. Jenkins Thistle & Grail (1994) iv. 61 Am I Carnegie, that I can throw away fourpence on that shower of chanty-wrastlers?
1988 G. M. Fraser Sheikh & Dustbin (1989) 41 A chanty-wrastler is a poseur, and unreliable.
2016 R. Gavin 3 of Kind 76 If ah get mah hands on that chanty wrassler.
A chanty, meanwhile, is a Scottish term for a “chamber pot,” shortened from Chantilly, a French town known for manufacturing the porcelain used for such shitters.
adj. intended to invite or perceived as inviting sexual interest; alluring, seductive. Earliest and chiefly in come-to-bed eyes. It is unclear whether quot. 1922 is a play on, and therefore earlier evidence for, the usual form of the expression, or a coincidental nonce coinage by Joyce.
[1922 J. Joyce Ulysses xv. 411 I seen you up Faithful place with your squarepusher, the greaser off the railway, in his cometobed hat.]
1962 Las Vegas Sun 21 Nov. 13/5 A number of men have told me that I have ‘come to bed’ eyes.
1969 Financial Times 23 Oct. 15/6 It all revolves around sex… Quite simply, Eyelure creates come-to-bed-eyes.
1972 Texas Star 4 June 9/4 (advt.) Layer upon layer of luxurious curls you can toss about for a tousled, come-to-bed look.
1989 P. Robins in D. Rees & P. Robins Freezer Counter 40 Our Lennie, with his nut-brown curls and come-to-bed voice paid us both in kind.
2004 Gay Times Feb. 85/3 Despite his cute, floppy fringe, come-to-bed eyes, and little-boy-lost expression, on record he sounds like a slowed-down Grace Jones who’s lived off nothing but Gitanes for the last five years.
n. colloq. (now chiefly Brit.). (A nickname for) a person with red or reddish hair; cf. ginger…Sometimes derogatory, reflecting negative attitudes towards red-haired people.
1911 E. Dyson Benno & some Push v. 58 Miss Dolly Hopgood was commonly called ‘Ginge’, an abbreviation of Ginger, and a polite allusion to her prevailing tint.
1977 G. F. Newman Prisoner’s Tale 21 He..glanced down at his crotch. ‘I’m getting a blue vein here, Ginge,’ he said.
1985 D. Kavanagh Putting Boot In 11 That speedy little ginge had got the ball again.
2007 T. Bell Life in Bus Lane iii. 43 If that wasn’t bad enough, there was the total indignity of meeting a fellow ‘ginge’.
v. colloq. (orig. U.S. slang). intr. To shirk one’s duties, skive; to loaf around. Cf. to fuck off…
1943 Stars & Stripes (Middle East ed.) 6 Aug. 5/4 It’s easier to screw off from details because there’s no center for reaching men.
1981 Salina (Kansas) Jrnl. 9 Sept. 2/2 Quit screwing off and go and collect rocks.
1991 E. Currie Dope & Trouble i. iv. 66 Some of the workers there would screw off… They were..lounging around and not doing the work.
2008 Atlantic Monthly Dec. 86/2 It’s his birthday today, so I’m letting him screw off.
1971 J. C. Oates in Salmagundi Winter 34 I don’t need any screwing around.
1988 M. Bishop Unicorn Mountain (1989) iv. 39 After much more skylarking and screwing around, Sam married Dolores Arriola, vowing to set himself straight.
2005 W. Deverell April Fool xxiii. 267 The screwing around with other women, the guilt, that’s what led me to drink.
Son of a bachelor
n. used as a term of abuse or contempt; cf. bastard n…Perhaps sometimes as a euphemistic alternative to stronger terms such as son of a bitch.
1657 T. Jordan Walks Islington & Hogsdon iv. ii. sig. F4 You son of a Batchelor, do you throw your Pispots upon my head.
1737 J. Ozell tr. Rabelais Wks. IV. lv. 227 Tack about, helm a Lee, thou Son of a Batchelor.
1861 Warren (Pa.) Mail 16 Feb. 2/1 Every mothers son of a bachelor was pierced to the heart by the fatal shaft.
1958 Stars & Stripes (European ed.) 20 Mar. 3/4 When some son of a bachelor insults me I insult back twice as hard.
2000 New Republic 10 July 31/2 These sons of bachelors will not intimidate me.
Strong Language’s own Jonathon Green also dates son of a bachelor to Thomas Jordan’s Walks of Islington and Hogsdon, which he notes is also an early record of pisspot (which he finds in 1562)—or a chanty, as it were, before extending to an “unpleasant person” (late 1500s), a “drunkard” (1950s), a “lavatory bowl” (1970s), and “anywhere unpleasant, dirty, smelly, etc.” (1990s). Look out for Green’s own updates, including a bachelor’s son/son of a bachelor, later this summer.
n. coarse slang (orig. U.S.). The perineum.
1955 ‘W. Baron’ Play this Love with Me v. 62 My prick was throbbing somewhere around her taint—you know what a woman’s taint is: ‘taint asshole and ‘taint cunt.
1971 E. E. Landy Underground Dict. 181 Taint, the piece of skin between the penis or vagina and the anus.
2005 GQ Sept. 199/2 Steve was so into it that he asked her to rub his ‘taint’. Then it was all over.
2015 B. Garrett When Balls Drop xx. 196 Think long and hard about getting tattoos… Think twice before getting that red hibiscus flower inked over your taint.
In other slang dialects, taint answers to gooch and grundle.
Finally, the OED antedated a number of sweary terms after reading through the Selected Letters of Norman Mailer, which author has also gifted us the likes of shitstorm and fucking A. In her article introducing these updates, OED Associate Editor Eleanor Maier explains that obscenity laws and censorship pressures in the 19th and early 20th centuries make it difficult to find evidence for swear words—and making uncensored private letters like Norman Mailer’s invaluable resources. Mailer himself was forced to substitute fug for fuck in his 1948 The Naked and the Dead, as Rob Chirico has discussed.
intr. To blunder, to make a (serious) error; to fail, go wrong. Cf. to screw up…
1944 N. Mailer Let. 30 Apr. in Sel. Lett. (2014) 17 If you do something wrong or make a botch of a job it is called ‘fucking-up’.
slang (orig. and chiefly U.S.) (euphem.). = motherfucking adj.
1948 N. Mailer Let. 7 Feb. in Sel. Lett. (2014) 68 Words liked browned-off, fouled-up, mother-loving, f——, spit for [sc. instead of] shit are the most counterfeit of currencies and represent the public’s conception of Army life.
n. work considered to be menial or routine; drudgery.
1958 N. Mailer Let. 29 Oct. in Sel. Lett. (2014) 241 The only trouble is that this was shit work, prefaces to my short collected stuff, and to my horror I got sick of myself.
Interested in more shit work on Strong Language? We’ve got you well covered.
All definitions and citations are from the OED Online, accessed June 2017.