Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Jun 22 21:30:53 UTC 2006

Did "ram" mean, well, you know, at the time ?  A citation would be nice.

  Even if it did - and I'm not ruling that out - it seems unlikely to me that it was the sort of verb that would ordinarily be applied to females.  The same, I hate to say, goes for "bugger," though the legal usage of the time may prove me wrong.

  Perhaps the idea is that a "rambeggur" was the sort of person so depraved as to "beg" actual ovine rams for, well, you know.  (I believe such a word would be a bit too lurid for 1665.)

  Or was it a misreading of "rum-beggar."  Another SWAG.

  Maybe that guy who talks to the dead on TV could help out.  If so, Oxford might put him on salary.  Jesse ?


"Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "Joel S. Berson"
Subject: Re: Pisshouse

At 6/22/2006 11:45 AM, Jonathon wrote [sent to me privately, but
copied to ADS-L for wider interest]:
>Dear Joel,
>I tried to send this to the list this a.m., but for reasons
>apparently to do with my not using my usual email address - I am in
>Paris and using my IP server's mail system - it was tossed back.
>Please don't take it amiss - as I say, it is a fantastic predate -
>but were you aware of Rawson? I have it in my own database on that
>basis, but never thought to check the OED.

Well, I published first--at least to the OED! :-)

>Far be it from me to (I'm sorry, I cannot resist) piss on anyone's
>parade - and before we go any further, it is a _great_ predate,
>Joel: any more at home like that? - but Hugh Rawson references the
>selfsame line in his _Dict.
> >> of Invective_ 1989); whether he offers chapter and verse I
> cannot, temporarily exiled from my copy, say. But it's there,
> 'rambeggur' and all.

I will be going post-haste (as they said in the same period) to a
library to check--and if Rawson does not cite his source, then the
(OED) credit surely belongs to me!

>On which note, is it possible that 'beggur' is simply 'beggar', and
>that 'ram', as in 'ramcat' - a tomcat - simply means virile or
>strong and here serves to intensify the 'beggarness', i.e.
>distastefulness of the person thus attacked. Alternatively 'ram'
>certainly meant 'fuck' at the time, so maybe the vilified one is
>simply being accused of coupling with the indigent.

I don't think "virile or strong" makes sense as a modifier of
"beggar", when it is the speaker's mother he is vilifying. And
wouldn't the word be "beggar-ramming" if a reference to someone
indigent was intended? "Bugger", one who buggers, seems more likely
to me, but as Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>The only basis for that interpretation is that it makes some sense
>of "rambeggur."
> But as we know, that means next to nothing. I have not seen the
> word elsewhere.


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