slang terms for "clitoris"

Wilson Gray hwgray at EARTHLINK.NET
Thu Jul 22 19:28:48 UTC 2004

On Jul 22, 2004, at 2:28 AM, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET>
> Subject:      Re: slang terms for "clitoris"
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> Well, I surely never heard of "pearltongue" or "purrtongue"; I guess I
> haven't been getting out enough. I presume "pearltongue" to be
> primary. I
> have heard "pearl diving" ( = "muff diving"), but I never knew what the
> pearl was. Jonathon Green's dictionary says the pearl is ... y'all
> guessed it.

I agree with your presumption that pearltongue is primary.
"Pearldiving," except in the literal sense and as an old slang term for
washing dishes, is new to me. "Muffdiving," of course, is a relatively
old friend. I never heard the term till 1960, when I was 23.

> Google does provide a few instances of "pearltongue" = "clitoris",
> supposedly a 'chiefly black' word.

I've now found the Google cites. I can't understand how I missed them
the first time around. Given that I learned the term as a consequence
of asking whether there existed a specific BE term for "clitoris," I'm
buying the "chiefly black" annotation. But it does bug my head that I
*had* to ask, since the woman that I asked was my girl friend and the
guy was my what used to be termed "main man." One would expect that one
or the other would make use of pearl-/purrtongue in conversation.  But
they both normally used "clitoris." And it's also the case that I've
never heard either "pearltongue" or "purrtongue" spoken ever again by
anyone else of whatever race, color, creed, sex, nationality, or sexual

> Note also French "languette" = "clitoris", which appears in Farmer's
> "Vocabula Amatoria", etc.


> Also note the charming "budgie's tongue" in the same sense ("budgie" =
> "budgerigar" = "parrakeet"). I don't recall ever hearing this myself.
> Any connection between "pearltongue" and "poontang"?

Probably not. The OED suggests French "putain" for the latter, which
sounds good to me. Also, "poontang" is - or, at least, was, back in the
day - felt by blacks to be somewhat racist. In fact, the OED quotes a
line from a novel by Calder Willingham (a hell of a writer; what ever
happened to him?) in which "poon tang"[sic] is specifically referred to
"Negro girl."

-Wilson Gray

> -- Doug Wilson

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