"Big Apple" prostitution etymology, pt. 2
slang at BLUEYONDER.CO.UK
Fri Jun 1 10:50:37 UTC 2001
My slang database offers the following sexual connotations for Apples. Like
Jonathan Lighter, I have nothing specific to the 19C.
1. apples [16C+] the female breasts
e.g. 1640 Carew 'The Rapture' The warm firm apple, tipp'd with coral
2. apple-squire [16C-18C] a pimp. Plus synon. apple-monger, apple-knight,
e.g. 1610 Rowlands 'Martin Mark-all' This Lawrence had beene [...] cast out
of seruice, and so was faine to liue among the wicked, sometimes a stander
for the padder, sometimes a verser for the cony-catcher, sometimes a stale
for a foyst, but most commonly an Apple-squire for a trudging house.
The presumed etymology is that he traded in 'apples'/breasts. The 'apples'
are also 'ripe', as are the whores. A secondary meaning is of 'gigolo' which
does indeed make _him_ a whore.
3. [late 18C] apple dumpling shop: the female breasts
4. [17C] apples of love: the testicles
4. [17C] the fruit that made men wise: sexual intercourse. i.e. the Edenic
In no case can I find a simple linguistic equation between 'apple' and
'prostitute'. The apples in apple-squire/ - monger / etc. are either
metaphoric or refer to the breasts, not the 'working woman'. Gordon
Williams, in his Dict. of Sexual Language and Imagery in Shakespearean and
Stuart Lit. (1994) writes extensively of 'apple'. Its meanings (other than
that of the 'breast') are those of a woman (not, however, a whore), and her
virginity, thus phr. 'take a bite of a green apple', to deflower.
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