Monday, 23 June 2008


Les copio un artículo muy interesante y divertido sobre eufemismos sobre "ir al baño". Salió en el suplemento Books en el diario The Times, el día sábado 21 de junio de este año, página 16. Está escrito por Ben Macintyre.

(Las palabras o frases que están en italics o bold, las resalté yo)

Pueden leerlo aquí y/o guardarse el link a la nota.

MY GRANDFATHER, a former naval commander, used to announce that he intended to “go and pump ship”. My grandmother, however, was more likely to inquire if anyone needed to “spend a penny”, or disappear to “powder her nose”. My great-uncle, on the other hand, liked to scandalise his relatives by declaring loudly that he needed to “point Percy at the porcelain”.

Euphemisms for excretion - or “loophemisms” - are one of the most fertile areas of the English language. In his new book of euphemisms, Nigel Reees lists no less than 103 separate ways of saying the unsayable.

Englishmen and women will tie themselves in linguistic knots to avoid calling a toilet a toilet, or lavatory, or loo. There are more synonyms for this room than any other, ranging from blunt slang to fastidious genteelisms: WC, khazi, bog, thunder box, little house, chapel of ease, the usual offices, privy, rest room, the amenities, jakes, and thousands more.

Love of a good loophemism is (or was) a peculiarly British trait. No other language has such a rich stock of these phrases, for the lavatorial euphemism combines two profound national characteristics: a delight in word-play, and the ingrained belief that going to the loo is embarrassing and therefore extremely funny.

There was a time when every family, and even individuals within a single family, would have a different way of saying the same thing. Writers compete to mince words in this arena. John Betjeman would announce: “I need to go and stand up” (or “sit down”).

In Anthony Powell's Journals, guests are asked: “Do you want to put your hat straight?” In Time Must Have a Stop (1946) Aldous Huxley refers to “a place where even the King goes on foot - enfin, the toilet chamber”. This is one of the few examples of a lavatorial euphemism that crosses language boundaries to make a universal socio-political point. The French also refer to the room Ou le roi va seul and Russians announce they are going “where even the Tsar goes on foot”.

One strand of loophemism involves invoking some activity that one could not possibly be doing. Excuse me while I go and turn the vicar's bike around/see a man about a dog/look at the garden/water the horse.

Another subset subtly implies the activity itself. I need to drop the kids off at the pool/go and see a friend off to the coast/empty the teapot to make room for another cup.

Others do the same job more graphically: I am just going to bleed the lizard/squeeze the peach/wring out my socks/shake hands with my best friend, and so on.

Tracing the roots of lavatorial language is difficult, since such euphemisms tend to be flushed away almost as quickly as they are produced. The phrase to “go and pick a daisy” may refer to the floral patterns on Victorian chamber pots. To “go for a quick burst on the banjo” apparently refers to the Japanese word for loo: benjo.

The term to “go north”, much in vogue in the 1950s, may be traced to Noël Coward, who sang, in The Stately Homes of England: “And the lavatory makes you fear the worst/It was used by Charles the First/Quite informally/And later by George the Fourth/On the Journey North.” The origin of “spending a penny” is more obscure. I have long believed this phrase to be the legacy of a professional magician named Jasper Maskelyne. During the Second World War Maskelyne ran the “Magic Gang”, a motley group of conjurors and stage performers whose task it was to bamboozle the enemy by sleight of hand; before the war he invented the first coin-operated toilet door.

Rees, however, points out that we may have been spending a penny at least a century earlier. Toilets were provided at the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in 1851, costing one penny, and the first permanent public toilet opened in London four years later. Oddly, this euphemism has survived immune from inflation. According to the website, the cost of “spending a penny” should have risen to about 34p.

But while some loophemisms are evergreen, most seem oddly dated. During the war there was a boom in such locutions: a wartime wee was described as going to “check the blackout”, “go and see the man I joined up”, or even “go and telephone Hitler” - the latter phrase was particularly popular among members of the French Resistance.

Today, the parlour game of coining loophemisms may be dying out. No one powders their nose today, or puts their hat straight, let alone makes use of the coy little boy's/girl's room. Perhaps we no longer feel any need to skirt around the unmentionable, or squirt great clouds of verbal air-freshener through the smallest room in the house. Or perhaps we have just run out of ideas for one of the most euphemised activities in the world.

As George says in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, when asked by Honey where she may “put powder on her nose”: “Martha, won't you show her where we keep the...euphemism?”

A Man about a Dog: Euphemisms and other Examples of Verbal Squeamishness by Nigel Rees

Thursday, 12 June 2008

Dirty Words (Q to Z)


Quim /kw{I}m/ noun
taboo, BrE, slang) a woman’s genitals


noun [C, usually sing.]
taboo, slang) an act of sex with sb

verb (-gg-) [v, vn] (BrE, taboo, slang) to have sex with sb

exclamation (taboo, slang) a swear word that many people find offensive, used to show that you are angry or annoyed: Shit! I’ve lost my keys!

noun (taboo, slang)
1 [U] solid waste matter from the bowels syn excrement: a pile of dog shit on the path

2 [sing.] an act of emptying solid waste matter from the bowels: to have a shit

3 [U] stupid remarks or writing; nonsense: You’re talking shit! * She’s so full of shit. * Don’t give me that shit.—see also bullshit

4 [C] (disapproving) an unpleasant person who treats other people badly: He’s an arrogant little shit.

5 [U] criticism or unfair treatment: I’m not going to take any shit from them.

A crock of 'shit (taboo slang, especially NAmE)
something that is not true

Beat, kick, etc. the 'shit out of sb

to attack sb violently so that you injure them

In the 'shit / In ,deep 'shit
in trouble:
I’ll be in the shit if I don’t get this work finished today.
* You’re in deep shit now.

Jack 'shit (taboo) [U] (NAmE, slang) (usually used in negative sentences)
anything or nothing at all
You don’t know jackshit.

Like 'shit really bad, ill/sick etc.
really badly
I woke up feeling like shit. * We get treated like shit in this job.
No 'shit! (often ironic)
used to show that you are surprised, impressed, etc. or that you are pretending to be

Not give a 'shit (about sb/sth)
to not care at all about sb/sth
He doesn’t give a shit about anybody else.

Scare the 'shit out of sb / Scare sb 'shitless (taboo, slang)
to frighten sb very much

Shit 'happens
used to express the idea that we must accept that bad things often happen without reason

Shit·head noun Slang
a stupid, inept, unlikable, or contemptible person.

When the ,shit hits the 'fan
when sb in authority finds out about sth bad or wrong that sb has done
When the shit hits the fan, I don’t want to be here.

Shit stirrer noun (BrE, taboo, slang)
a person who tries to make situations in which people disagree even worse

'shit stirring noun [U]

verb (
shit•ting, shit, shit) (taboo, slang) shat / S&t / and, in BrE, shit•ted are also used for the past tense and past participle.

1 [v, vn] to empty solid waste matter from the bowels

2 [vn] ~ yourself to empty solid waste matter from the bowels by accident

3 [vn] ~ yourself to be very frightened

adj. (taboo slang, especially BrE) very bad:
You’re shit and you know you are! * They’re a shit team.

Snatch /snaet{phon_caps}/noun (taboo, slang)
an offensive word for a woman’s outer sex organs

Sod /
s{phon_capq}d; NAmE s{phon_capa}:d/ noun
1 (BrE, taboo, slang) used to refer to a person, especially a man, that you are annoyed with or think is unpleasant:
You stupid sod!

2 (BrE, taboo, slang) used with an adjective to refer to a person, especially a man:
The poor old sod got the sack yesterday.
* You lucky sod!

3 (BrE, taboo, slang) a thing that is difficult or causes problems:
It was a real sod of a job.

verb (-dd-) [vn] (BrE, taboo, slang) (only used in orders) a swear word that many people find offensive, used when sb is annoyed about sth or to show that they do not care about sth:
Sod this car! It’s always breaking down.
* Oh, sod it! I’m not doing any more. * We’re going on holiday and sod the expense.

Sod 'all noun [U] (BrE, taboo, slang)
a phrase that some people find offensive, used to mean none at all or nothing at all

Sod•ding /'s{phon_capq}d{I}{phon_capn}; NAmE 's{phon_capa}:d/ adj. [only before noun] (BrE, taboo, slang)
a swear word that many people find offensive, used to emphasize a comment or an angry statement
I couldn’t understand a sodding thing!

Sod 'off (BrE, taboo, slang)
usually used in orders) to go away:
Sod off, the pair of you!
Sod that for a lark (BrE, slang)
used by sb who does not want to do sth because it involves too much effort
Sod that for a lark! I’m not doing any more tonight.

Slag /slae{phon_capg}/
noun[C] (BrE, slang)
an offensive word for a woman, used to suggest that she has a lot of sexual partners

Spunk /sp{phon_capv}{phon_capn}k/ noun
[U] (BrE, taboo, slang) = semen

/t{I}t/ noun
1 [usually pl.] (also titty) (taboo, slang) a woman’s breast or nipple
2 (BrE, slang) a stupid person
/t{phon_capq}s; NAmE t{phon_capo}:s/sb / yourself 'off (BrE, taboo, slang)
to give yourself sexual pleasure by rubbing your sex organs; to give sb sexual pleasure by rubbing their sex organs
syn masturbate

Tosser /'t{phon_capq}s{shwa}(r); NAmE 't{phon_capo}:s/ noun
slang) a stupid or unpleasant person

Turd /t{phon_three_colon}d; NAmE t{phon_three_colon}rd/ noun (taboo, slang)
a lump of solid waste from the bowels:
dog turds

an offensive word for an unpleasant person

/twaet; tw{phon_capq}t; NAmE tw{phon_capa}:t/ noun
taboo slang, especially BrE)
an offensive word for an unpleasant or stupid person
an offensive word for the outer female sex organs

/wae{phon_capn}k/ verb [v]
taboo, slang)
to masturbate

Wank noun [usually sing.]
taboo, slang)
an act of masturbation

Wanker /'wae{phon_capn}k{shwa}(r)/ noun
taboo, slang) an offensive word used to insult sb, especially a man, and to show anger or dislike:
a bunch of wankers

Whore /h{phon_capo}:(r)/ noun
(old-fashioned) a female prostitute
(taboo) an offensive word used to refer to a woman who has sex with a lot of men

See also:

Dirty Words (A to B)

Dirty Words (C to D)

Dirty Words (F to J)

Dirty Words (M to P)

And sing along!

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