The word "pornographic"

Fred Shapiro fred.shapiro at YALE.EDU
Fri Jan 21 18:40:24 UTC 2000

On Fri, 21 Jan 2000, James Smith wrote:

> Is it just me?...or does the following use of
> "pornographic" bother anyone else in this group?
>    Has the word "pornographic" lost its reference to
> the erotic and sexual (whether erotic and sexual
> material is good or bad is not the point of my
> enquiry) and become another word for disturbing,
> obscene, disgusting, horrific, etc.   Maybe this is a

I have heard and read "pornographic" commonly used in this way for
decades.  The OED documents "pornography" in a transferred or extended
sense back to 1968.  Other words such as "sexy" have undergone similar

Fred R. Shapiro                             Coeditor (with Jane Garry)
Associate Librarian for Public Services     TRIAL AND ERROR: AN OXFORD
  and Lecturer in Legal Research            ANTHOLOGY OF LEGAL STORIES
Yale Law School                             Oxford University Press, 1998
e-mail: fred.shapiro at               ISBN 0-19-509547-2

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