"pimp walk"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Tue Feb 19 04:04:03 UTC 2008

I meant to bring this up earlier, so I appreciate this second chance.
I agree with Jesse that a pimp walk - known in Saint Louis as a "cut
walk," for reasons unknown to me, but possibly because pimps don't
usually walk -  is ostentatious. But I don't agree that it's a
swagger. A pimp walk, for me, is a Kool-with-a-capital-K, peaceful,
hip way of walking that impresses and does not in any way appear
threatening. It just makes you wish that you had a walk as cool as
that, because you knew that the a stud who could walk could also dance
and anybody who could dance was bringing P (getting laid). A swagger,
on the other hand, according to the RHD, is "defiant or insolent."
Walking that way would have annoyed anyone who saw you and those who
were supposed to be bad might be moved to check you out to see whether
you could back that walk up, unless you were careful to walk your walk
only on your own block, where people who saw you wouldn't see that
walk as a challenge.

Of course, this could be merely my impression because I grew up in
Saint Louis, a well-known linguistic island, and the fact that I'm
old. Much has passed me by. <sigh!>


On Feb 18, 2008 12:24 PM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: "pimp walk"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> In
> >http://www.slate.com/id/2184211/
> >("A History of Pimping" by Jesse Sheidlower)
> Jesse mentions "pimp walk" as "an ostentatious swagger affected
> chiefly by African-American men."
> There was something similar among northern urban African Americans
> during the decades after the Revolution.  See Ira Berlin, _Many
> Thousands Gone_ (1998), page 254:
> "While the respectables met in the quiet decorum of their sitting
> rooms to debate the issues of the day, the newcomers joined together
> in smoke-filled gaming houses and noisy midnight frolics. Their
> boisterous life style, colorful dress, plaited hair [corn rows?],
> eelskin queues [one citation, from Irving, 1809], and swaggering gait
> scandalized the respectables."
> Berlin cites [Shane] White, _Somewhat More Independent_, ch. 7, esp.
> 194-206; and [Gary] Nash, _Forging Freedom_, 217-233.
> Joel
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