Use of the word ménages

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Jan 31 02:19:02 UTC 2004

>Here is the exact sentence from the 1926 diary:
>"But twice she asked for ménages from him; wh. I obtained
>clandestinely, twice visiting Nyack without St.'s knowing."
>Now, the person in Nyack from whom the diary writer was to obtain the
>menages from is a kind of self tutored doctor and yoga instructor who was
>known to offer birth control and abortions at his place in the 1920s. He was
>also big on internal cleansing and that sort of thing, too.
>Does that help?
>Thanks again.
>Bob Love
It helps, although I think it's still hard to know exactly what was going on.

I think it's a reasonable speculation that "ménage" translates
literally here as 'household device' (possibly influenced by the
English cognate "manage"), and is used here as a euphemism for the
particular household device that dare not speak its name.
Unfortunately for my speculation, I can't find any evidence that
"ménage" was used by English speakers to refer generally to a
household device (= 'something that helps one manage').

Any other speculations or, dare I say, evidence for or against?


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