Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Mar 27 13:47:34 UTC 2008

At 9:19 AM -0400 3/27/08, Wilson Gray wrote:
>Larry, needless to say, I, too, am old enough to remember when a
>"masseuse" was merely a female masseur and "happy ending" was used
>primarily in reference to books and movies.

Right; "male masseuse" is a nice instance of marking reversal.  And
then there's the classic retronym, the therapeutic message.


>On Wed, Mar 26, 2008 at 11:27 PM, Laurence Horn
><laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
>>  ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>   Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>   Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>>   Subject:      "bromance"
>>   My daughter writes:
>>   =================
>>   New word alert**
>>   I'm watching "Top Chef," an elimination reality show on Bravo, and
>>   there was just a commercial for a show, "Make Me A Supermodel," where
>>   there was speculation over a potential romance between two men on the
>>   show- a "bromance"! I thought you would get a kick out of it if you
>>   haven't heard it before, but I just googled it and it looked pretty
>>   popular (41,000 hits), so I'm probably too late.
>>   ================
>>   In checking the first few of these 41,000 I find myself directed to
>>   urbandictionary.com, where the thumbs-up contributors make it clear
>>   that for them, the blend denotes not a *romance* romance, but the
>>   'complicated love and affection shared by two straight males'.
>>   According to one contributor:
>>   ===============
>>   Provenance/Origin: "Bromance" is a portmanteau of the two words
>>   "brother" and "romance". Originally coined by author/editor Dave
>>   Carnie in "Big Brother Magazine." Big Brother was a sort of R rated
>>   skateboarding/skate culture magazine that was eventually purchased by
>>   Larry Flynt's Hustler conglomerate and consequently taken out of
>>   circulation due to unsatisfactory sales performance. Carnie used the
>>   word on several occasions to describe relationships between
>>   skate-buddies who spent a lot of time together and/or shared hotel
>>   rooms on every tour/skate road ===============
>>   I have no idea whether the skateboarder derivation is accurate, and
>>   in any case I assume "bro" + "romance" is a plausible source, since
>>   the guys (dudes?) involved probably call each other "bro".  Posters
>>   to urbandictionary who claim "bromance" can be used for actual
>>   romances or sexual relationships (as in "Brokeback Mountain is the
>>   best bromance movie of all time") get mostly thumbs down from the
>>   judges.  (Maybe whoever posted the above thought that the "bro" in
>>   bromance was from Brokeback rather than from...bro?)
>>   When I was trying to think of other blends/portmanteaux we've
>>   discussed here that combine the 'man' with a stem, or possibly a
>>   'bro-' as in the current case, or (I'm sure there are a bunch of
>>   these) just an initial 'm-', all I could remember was "manzeer"
>>   (a.k.a. "bro", for a male brassiere, from the Seinfeld episode).  I
>>   know there are a bunch of other cases, especially for cases in which
>>   the male protagonist is somehow marked, like 'male nurse/prostitute'
>>   or the more recent 'male masseuse' [sic], only involving just the m-
>>   of man/male instead of the full phrase or compound.  Can anyone help
>>   fill in my blank?
>>   LH
>>   ------------------------------------------------------------
>>   The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>All say, "How hard it is that we have to die"---a strange complaint to
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>  -Sam'l Clemens
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