Words, Where Do They Come From

Warning, OUTRAGEOUS is a series of filth, swearing, insanity and gross images. The easily offended (and not so easily) and anyone under about 35 should stop reading right now!

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In America, “fanny” refers to a bum, whilst in Britain it is a slang term for a lady’s front personal part. I’m not sure why “fanny”, but have a feeling it may be cockney rhyming slang, possibly Fanny Hunt … if you follow?

Why call a tramp a bum? What has being homeless, ragged and broke got to do with bums? Why is cadging a cigarette called “bummed” a cigarette, or do tramps get called bums because they are reduced to begging or “bumming” for stuff and cash. And why in Britain, when you share a cigarette with someone and find the tip is wet, do we say “you’ve bum sucked it”?

After all, sticking a Marlborough up your backside and then passing it to a friend seems like quite an unlikely and pretty hostile thing to do and could result in something a good deal more unpleasant on the filter than a mere bit of spittle. I was actually tempted to say, “sticking a Camel up your backside“, but decided that may lead to some confusion, conjuring up an extremely strange and unwelcome image.

A cigarette here is called a fag – and again I have no idea why – whereas a fag in the US refers to a gay man and is short for “faggot“. A faggot is what a log of wood for the fire is called and is also a type of spiced meatball, though what either of those have to do with homosexuality, I‘m at a loss to even hazard a guess.

I also believe “fags” in posh British schools used to be first year students who were treated (and mistreated) like personal servants for the older boys. Most of the first years would also have been “bummed”, which gives that term yet another meaning, this time alluding to a bit of interference of the anal kind.

Where terms come from is a bit of a mystery to me (without doing the research I’m too lazy to bother with). Why, for example, is urination described variously as piddle, widdle, wee and piss? Pee is obviously a polite way of avoiding saying piss, but where did those other words spring from. Jimmy riddle is rhyming slang for piddle, but why “piddle” in the first place? Maybe they started out saying I’m going for a puddle and someone misheard one day and started saying piddle and it just caught on.

Why do we call someone’s head a “bonce”. Why is a finger a “pinky”. Why are breasts “boobs” or “boobies“? “Jugs” as in “milk jugs” makes some sense, but boobs? Why is a man’s sex organ called a wang in America and a willy in the UK. What of all the other many terms for it, where did they all originate, and why is “dick” considered mild enough to call someone a dick, but “cock” is considered cruder (or used to be, though it seems to be catching on now, largely, I suspect, due to Jeremy Clarkson and his two Top Gear pals who are forever saying “oh cock”). Then who can explain “winkie”, “prick“ and “todger“?

As for the term for self abuse that rhymes with yank, what has that got to do with the action involved. Tug, I see the point of, but wink spelled with an A, I don’t get. Though I have to point out that the British insults of “wanker” and “tosser” accompanied by a mime of the act, are a lot more satisfying than the American equivalent of “jerk” or “jerk off”.

The same goes for “arsehole” as opposed to “asshole”. If you are an American, next time someone vexes you, try calling them a wanker or an arsehole (rolling the R out good and long) and I’m sure you will be converted to the British usage.

As for the fact that “wank” does indeed rhyme with “yank“, that’s purely coincidental and is no reflection on our colonial cousins…

Well, I think we have learned absolutely nothing of any value here, but writing this piece did give me an excuse for using a lot of rude words without sounding gratuitous, all under the guise of a genuine etymological investigation.

I have nothing further to add to the above, so you can all piss off now, bunch of wankers.

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About tonyjayg

I'm a great bloke. That's all you need to know. ;)
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2 Responses to Words, Where Do They Come From

  1. Avril says:

    Well, pis is the French word for a cow’s udder – which squirts milk – which might explain the colloquial verb pisser – to urinate, so maybe calling it piss came from medieval times when people in England spoke French. The French word for dandelion is pissenlit, (piss-en-lit & ‘lit’ being bed) which was probably the origin for the myth that picking a dandelion would make you wet the bed.
    Shit – the colloquial French word for it is chier, so maybe…
    I always wondered if the word pussy (for cat, you bad boy) came from the French term for a moggy “sac á pousses’ (bag of fleas), but now I believe it came from the Germanic words for calling the cat: “pus” “puus” etc.
    There endeth the Sunday sermon

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