Thursday 24 November 2011

Utter Filth and Obscenity which Should be Burned

Read no further. The following post will be utterly obscene. Filth. Beginning to end lewdness and blueness. If you desperately need a respectable logophilic fix, click on the clever widget on the right and you can read all sorts of lovely etymologies in my brand new shiny book, The Etymologicon.

It's got the thirty pages of wonderful etymologies and, so far as I recall there's nothing obscene there at all. As The Observer correctly observed last Sunday, it's "The stocking filler of the season... How else to describe a book that explains the connection between Dom PĂ©rignon and Mein Kampf." Only those who are beyond redemption should continue with this post.

Got that?

Fine, if you're a foul enough gutter-dweller, you may click on the jump break.

There's a point in The Simpsons where Bart observes:

I didn't think it was physically possible, but this both sucks and blows.

For some reason Americans think that both of these words are somehow not obscene, when they both, of course derive from fellatio. So I set myself to discover when blowing became sucking and why. I didn't get an answer. But I did find two synonyms for fellate that my innocent little lexicon had never contained. The first is gamahuche, from the French gamarucher (which means the same). The first citation is from the works of Edward Sellon, whom you may remember as the author of such works as The New Ladies' Tickler (1866) or The Ups and Downs of Life (1867). But it was in The New Epicurean of 1875 that he wrote the immortal lines:

‘Quick, quick, Blanche!’ cried Cerise, ‘come and gamahuche the gentleman.’*

And then, in 1880, the word appeared in a couplet in an extraodinary Victorian poem:

You may frig and gamahuche and try every plan,
But fair fucking's the pride of an Englishman.

I knew that British national identity must be based on something. Gamahuche pretty much faded in the 20th century and was replaced by the delicate-sounding Latinate: irrumation. One who practices irrumation is an irrumator - and I had sort of half known that. You see, way back at school when I was learning Latin I was rather fond of the poet Catullus, and I do remember finding a poem of his that opens:

Pedicabo ego vos et irrumabo

Which roughly translates as:

I'll bugger you and screw your face.

Such poems appeal to puerile schoolboys. In fact, pedicabo derives from the Greek for school boy, because that's what the ancient Greeks used schoolboys for. But irrumabo (the first person future of irrumare), derives from ruma, the Latin word for udder. So irrumabo sort of means "I'll make you suck my udder" etymologically, if not practically.

I don't think there should be an illustration for this post. Those who feel the need for a picture can go over to where they have the fourth day of my amusingly changed book-covers.

*N.B. I did Google this phrase and the book does appear to be online. However, its contents are pretty much illegal, so I would research with caution, and preferably on someone else's computer.


  1. Is it wrong that I liked this post, M?

  2. Made me laugh out loud and then my teenage sons to asked why.

    Embarrassing...but worth it.

  3. I had always* understood there to be a technical difference between fellatio and irrumatio, namely that the former is largely an act performed** by the fellator, whereas the latter is something done to the irrumator, who is essentially passive. Throat-fucking, if you will.

    Wikipedia seems to back me up on this, and also notes that it was once used as a punitive act against homosexuality. My kind of justice...

    *Not literally always, of course - only since the age of about nine.

    **Did you once post on the fact that oral sex is always described as a performance in the newspapers, or was this a conversation we had?

  4. Loved this post, laughed so loud my sides hurt.....

  5. I read somewhere that it's known as a 'blow job' because 'blow' was Victorian slang for ejaculation.

  6. I read somewhere that it's known as a 'blow job' because 'blow' was Victorian slang for ejaculation.

  7. Shelley, I seem to recall Christopher Hitchens giving an etymology for 'blow job' in one of his essays (possibly in his final collection, 'Arguably', but I don't have it in front of me, so I can't be sure). Anyway, he claims it is indeed Victorian, but a piece of prostitutes' slang that started out as 'below job'.

    Probably best not to ask how I found this thread nearly two years after the most recent comment.

  8. My mural of hell has Catullus' pedicabo quote for in many years of visitors only 1 Gm. maths prof knew its meaning. I frequently add Roman/Ln. graffiti to my art

  9. I was expecting to correct this but it's disappeared. Quaeso ignoscas, matellam praesto alicui! Kindly correct the previous syntax!

  10. Fascinatingly, the word survived via Cockney rhyming slang - Gamahuche>Gam>Plate of ham aka "plating". I found this thanks to a Danny Dyer quote!