Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Thu Jun 22 22:30:32 UTC 2006

At 6/22/2006 05:30 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>Did "ram" mean, well, you know, at the time ?  A citation would be nice.

I've just come from Richard A. Spears's "Slang and Euphemism (Second
Abridged Edition, Signet, 1991, where I was looking for "piss-house"
et al.  (Not found there or in Rawson).  I took only brief notes on
"ram".  Spears claims "ram" meant "an act of copulation" from the
1600s; "to copulate with a female" from the 1800s or earlier; "to
perform pederasty" (I didn't note from when).  I think he also has
the sense "erect penis" (again I didn't note the date).  Spears (or
at least this abridged edition) does not have any quotations.

Spears does not have "ram-beggur/bugger/beggar".

>   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.

Spears seems to agree.  His senses of "ram" nearly all require the
"ramming" to be male.  Again from memory without notes, I think the
same is true for "bugger".

>   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.)

Why?  From the 1665 quotation--which is a report of trial
testimony--and elsewhere (e.g. reading about the early 18th c.) I
sense the language of the time to have been quite blunt and open.

Someone elsewhere suggested your "begging for a male sheep's
attendance" to me, but without any evidence.  But a new thought to
me: putting one and the other together, "ram" = "act of copulation"
(rather than male ovine) + "begger" = "one who begs" -- that is, "a
beggar for intercourse"??  And this would fit 1665 if Spears is correct.

>   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 ?

Jesse, are there no citations for "ram" as a noun, sense copulation
(or erect penis), in the OED?  There is the verb (v.2 in OED2), with
the meaning " trans. To leap (the ewe).  1688 R. Holme Armoury ii.
vii. 134/1 A Ram, Rutteth or Rammeth the Ewe.  1694 Motteux Rabelais
v. (1737) 222 They will not be ridden, tupp'd, and ramm'd.".  Where
"leap" means "Of certain beasts: To spring upon (the female) in
copulation."  Close enough to 1665?


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