R. W. Burchfield

Mark A. Mandel mamandel at LDC.UPENN.EDU
Wed Jul 14 22:24:12 UTC 2004

Wilson Gray writes:

Unfortunately, having grown up in a house whose backyard was a chicken
yard, I am only too familiar with the manner in which (some) birds
copulate. Given that the first thing that a rooster does after
finishing with a chicken is to kick that chicken aside with his spurs,
I long imagined that it was this brutal dismissal of the female partner
immediately after the climax of the sex act that had given rise to the
verb "spurn," despite that fact that the cliche is, "_she_ spurned
_his_  advances."

I checked in the OED Online. Your guess about the association with "spur" is
evidently a good one, but not for the reason that you were thinking of:


[The stem is prob. that of SPUR n.[1]]
I. intr.
 1. To strike against something with the foot; to trip or stumble. Also fig.
 b. In proverbial contrast with speed. Chiefly Sc[ottish].
 2. To strike or thrust with the foot; to kick (at something). Obs.
 b. In allusive phrases. Obs. (Cf. KICK v.1 1c.)
 c. To strike at with a weapon. Obs. 1
 d. To dash; to drive quickly. Obs.
3. fig. To kick against or at something disliked or despised; to manifest
opposition or antipathy, esp. in a scornful or disdainful manner.
II. trans.
 4. To strike (the foot) against something. Obs.
5. To strike or tread (something) with the foot; to trample or kick.
In later use freq. with implication of contempt.
b. With advs. or advb. phrases, as away, down, off, up, etc. Also fig.
6. To reject with contempt or disdain; to treat contemptuously; to scorn or

-- Mark A. Mandel
[This text prepared with Dragon NaturallySpeaking.]

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