spaz and Tiger Woods

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Sat Apr 22 22:13:33 UTC 2006

FWIW, I first heard "twat" as the punchline of a ca.1955 joke about an
airline stewardess who asked a passenger whether he would like some TWA tea.
In the '70's, a former president of the Linguistic Society of America
published a paper in which he tried to relate "twat" to "thwait" and
"thwite." In 1985, I mentioned to a friend that a woman friend had referred
to the girl friend that had recently dumped me as "a little twat." He was
shocked! shocked! that a woman would use such language.

The OED Online says that it can be used to mean "buttocks" in the U.S.
That's news to me.


On 4/16/06, Chris F. Waigl <chris at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Chris F. Waigl" <chris at LASCRIBE.NET>
> Organization: rather inconsistent
> Subject:      Re: spaz and Tiger Woods
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Wed, 2006-04-12 at 23:34 -0400, Wilson Gray wrote:
> > David, is your houseguest familiar with "Fawlty Towers"? From time to
> time,
> > the sign, "Fawlty Towers," would be "anagrammatized," so to speak. On
> one o=
> > f
> > the shows, the anagram read, "Flowery Twats." This was back in the
> '70's,
> > but I'm still trying to recover frrom the shock. ;--)
> I am a houseguest in London at the moment and while raiding the
> bookshelves (the books belong to a 13 y.o.) found the following in Mark
> Haddon's _The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time_ (the
> narrator is a 15 y.o. boy who, the reader gathers, most likely has an
> Autism-related disorder):
> ----
> All the other children at my school are stupid. Except I'm not meant to
> call them stupid even though this is what they are. I'm meant to say
> that they have learning difficulties or that they have special needs.
> But this is stupid because everybody has learning difficulties because
> learning to speak French or understanding Relativity is difficult, and
> also everyone has special needs, like Father who has to carry a little
> packet of artificial sweetening tablets around with him to put in his
> coffee to stop him getting fat, or Mrs Peters who wears a beige-coloured
> hearing-aid, or Siobhan who has glasses so thick that they give you a
> headache if you borrow them, and none of these people are Special Needs,
> even if they have special needs.
> But Siobhan said we have to use those words because people used to call
> children like the children at school _spaz_ and _crip_ and _mong_ which
> were nasty words. But that is stupid too because sometimes the children
> from the school down the road see us in the street when we're getting
> off the bus and they shout, 'Special Needs! Special Needs!'
> (ch. 71, p. 56)
> ----
> > "Spastic" and "cripple" are taboo, but "twat" is okay?! "Ssup wit dat?!"
> as
> > Ali G (or whatever his name is) might ask.
> Well, I don't think I've ever used "twat" myself, but that's how my
> intuition would rank them. "Twat" appears to have lost all genderedness.
> If anything, it's most of the time used from one man to the other. Very
> strange.
> Chris Waigl
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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