OED appeals-give him one

Mark A Mandel mam at THEWORLD.COM
Fri Jun 21 16:03:25 UTC 2002

(I'm not sure who wrote what here, since Dale's entire post is quoted
and there is no formal way to tell where Jesse leaves off and Dale

On Fri, 21 Jun 2002, Dale Coye wrote:

#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.

How does that square* with the name of the main character in "Patience",
who is a caricature of Oscar Wilde?: Bunthorne.

Okay, I'll take a step backward here. I don't remember whether I have
checked the OED (which I'm away from right now) for "bun(s)" =
'buttocks' or "prick" (or similar words) = 'penis'. If both these are
attested in the period (1881:
http://www.nodanw.com/shows_p/patience.htm), I would call that strong
evidence that *somebody* was labeling the character 'participant in anal
intercourse'. That somebody needn't have been Gilbert; maybe someone
suggested the name and he was too innocent/highminded/unaware to catch
the implication. -- Or of course, the component meanings may not have
been (provably) in use at the time; or even if they were, it could have
been (unprovably) coincidence.

* But none of this really affects the understanding of "give him one".

-- Mark A. Mandel

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