OED appeals-give him one

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Fri Jun 21 15:51:34 UTC 2002

On Fri, Jun 21, 2002 at 11:45:28AM -0400, Dale Coye wrote:
> In a message dated 06/20/2002 5:27:09 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
> jester at PANIX.COM writes:
> > On Wed, Jun 19, 2002 at 03:53:12PM -0400, Baker, John wrote:
> >
> > > I noticed that the nominally updated appeal for "to give someone
> > >one" (=sex) doesn't recognize my antedating to Gilbert & Sullivan's
> > >Iolanthe ("I heard the minx remark, She'd meet him after dark Inside
> > >St. James's Park And give him one").
> >
> > This antedating has been entered in OED, and the relevant entry will
> > probably be published in next quarter's batch.
> >
> > But the Iolanthe example can't mean 'have sex', can it?  If Gilbert had
> > thought it had even a hint of that meaning he never would have put it in
> > the play.  I always thought it meant that Iolanthe would 'give him a kiss'.
> >   Gilbert prided himself on putting on shows that made the theatre
> > respectable as opposed to the French who had all kinds of naughty
> > implications in their plays.  He was a pillar of respectability.  Maybe
> > it's like the phrase 'to make love' which appears in old songs and meant
> > something like 'say romantic things' or maybe 'kiss' but since the 60s at
> > least has generally been understood to mean copulation.

We do have a note discussing this; it could mean "kiss". However, St.
James's Park did have a reputation for being frequented by prostitutes,
so there's the possibility of a double meaning here. If we could find
a clear example from Victorian pornography it would help.

Jesse Sheidlower

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