An early "cock"?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Jun 29 17:26:53 UTC 2006

At 12:34 PM -0400 6/29/06, Charles Doyle wrote:
>Let me clarify:  Joel's (late-medieval?) "cock" poem is
>definitely BAWDY; that was obvious to me even before I read
>Ron's extensive exegesis!  The question is about the lexical
>status of the word "cock."  The fact that "cock" in the poem
>might present a commonplace metaphor, not "just a novel
>extended metaphor" or "some new clever metaphor that nobody
>had ever thought of before" (Ron's words), doesn't make the
>WORD "cock" a synonym for "penis."  It just makes the cock
>in the poem a SYMBOL for the penis, quite possibly a
>conventional symbol.  Other poems have compared candles,
>snakes, flutes--all manner of "phallic" objects--with
>penises; and riddles have compared submarines, pencils, and
>chewing gum with penises. But we don't say that the WORDS
>mean 'penis'.

as opposed to "member", "tool", "weapon", etc.
But it does seem to be something of a slippery
slope.  (Recall that one of the earlier English
designators for 'man' (i.e. 'male human' or
'vir'), back when a "man" was just a generic
human, was "wæpned man", lit. 'weaponed/penised


The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list