OED appeals-give him one

Fri Jun 21 16:11:14 UTC 2002

        I'm not sure how far to take an argument from presumed intention.  St. James's Park is said to have had a reputation for rogues and prostitutes, so "have sex" is certainly a plausible take on the line's meaning. Like other respectable men of the period, Gilbert knew a thing or two about London's underworld.  On the other hand, if he were challenged, I'm sure he would have said that he meant only a kiss, just as he denied that there was any connection between his Ruler of the Queen's Navee in H.M.S. Pinafore who had never been to sea and the similar real-life First Lord of the Admiralty.

John Baker

-----Original Message-----
From: Dale Coye [mailto:Dalecoye at AOL.COM]
Sent: Friday, June 21, 2002 11:45 AM
Subject: Re: OED appeals-give him one

> 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.
> Dale Coye

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