"Blue balls"

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Fri Jun 5 16:30:56 UTC 2009

On Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 11:43 AM, Jonathan Lighter<wuxxmupp2000 at gmail.com> wrote:
> On Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 11:13 AM, Benjamin Zimmer <
> bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
>> On Fri, Jun 5, 2009 at 8:55 AM, Benjamin
>> Zimmer<bgzimmer at babel.ling.upenn.edu> wrote:
>> >
>> > Any possibility that Roland was using one of the other senses of "blue
>> > balls" attested by HDAS -- either 'venereal buboes' or 'gonorrhea'?
>> And speaking of buboes (if we must), did "blue boar" (Grose 1788) and
>> "blue boy" (Farmer & Henley 1890) arise as eggcornic reinterpretations
>> of "bubo"?
> My pontification is yeah.

I like that explanation better than the allusion to London's notorious
Blue Boar Tavern, mentioned in various slang dictionaries. Or maybe
the tavern's name helped along the eggcornization of "bubo".

I see HDAS gives "blue boar" in brackets under the 'buboes' sense of
"blue balls". So do we get to "blue ball(s)" through yet another
reinterpretation, as an l-vocalized version of "blue boar"?

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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