The Sanas, Jazz, Jazz and Teas

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Jan 29 22:42:50 UTC 2005

>... I agree that no SF Bulletin editor in his right mind would have
>printed "jazz" in 1912 if he had the slightest suspicion that the word was

But "the word is indecent" seems stronger than what would be implied by the
pre-existence (even well-known) of "jazz" meaning "f*ck".

Many verbs routinely mean exactly "f*ck" (among other meanings): even such
basic ones as "do", "have", "know", "make". There is no shying away from
these verbs in general.

Other verbs may even have "f*ck" as a dominant or very likely meaning,
without causing any avoidance of a homonymous noun: e.g., "bed", "prong",

Suppose that ca. 1900 "jazz" was used casually like "fizz" and/or like
"zig-zag" and/or like "jasm" -- and also widely used as a verb equivalent
(in denotation) to the F-word. I think in this case "jazz" would have been
printed freely, at least as long as it didn't appear as a transitive verb.

By comparison, when I was young[er] (ca. 1960) it was common knowledge that
(e.g.) "He was banging her" referred to sex and this sentence would not
have appeared in the newspaper (AFAIK), but all sorts of other uses of
"bang" were OK, even "He gets a bang out of her" for example.

OTOH, the F-word itself has generally been treated as indecent in all
applications, and I agree that "jazz" cannot have been such a word. But I
think there are only a few such globally unacceptable words.

-- Doug Wilson

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