Q: "jewgaged"

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Mon Nov 2 01:49:59 UTC 2009

Laurence Horn 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:      Re: Q: "jewgaged"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Also in that Randiana link, we have an instance of the rather rare
> participle "jewgaged", which seems to mean something like 'sexually
> aroused without satisfaction' (essentially the female equivalent of
> "blue-balled"), but here used of --
> =================
> I felt half sorry to think that I had 'jewgaged' her. At the same
> time, to parody the words of the poet laureate:
> 'Tis better to have frigged with one's toe,
> Than never to have frigged at all.
> =================
> --and which appears once in this 1884 (or, according to another site,
> 1864) text, just shortly before the condensed history of
> flagellation, and then seems essentially to have dropped out of the
> language until the advent of  urbandictionary.com.

I speculate that the Urbandictionary entry was based exactly and only on
the above lonesome citation.

So we have only a single known instance of the word?

I don't think the meaning can be ascertained from the information at
hand ... in fact I don't think even the existence of the word can be
assured (e.g., could it be a misprint?) ... but my guess as to the
meaning would be different from the guess presented above. I would guess
the word "jewgage" meant "short-gauge" [verb] = "give short/deficient
measure". One can find a few 19th century instances of such a "short
gauge" (even at least once as a verb) at G-books. If this is the right
interpretation, the word would have been used in a jocular metaphoric
fashion here (hence the quotation marks, maybe): the lady is not getting
the attention she 'deserves', but rather only limited contact with a
clothed toe. No doubt still other guesses can be supported.

Or does someone have another citation?

> It's not in the
> OED or in Farmer & Henley, which does however indirectly suggest an
> origin in its derivation of another portmanteau, "jewlark" 'fool
> around':  see JEW 'to delude' + LARK 'irresponsible action'. A
> blogger at
> http://www.erosblog.com/2009/03/20/footsie-under-the-table/ plausibly
> suggests a link with such related (but historically longer-lived)
> ethnic slurs as "to Welsh" and "Indian-giver".

But other books fail to identify a "jew" in the etymology of "jewlark":
e.g., DARE points instead to "jill" (= "girl[friend]" or so). I myself
would wildly speculate that the "jew" and the "lark" may both be
adventitious, the original word perhaps being something like "jillock"
with 'diminutive' suffix.

-- Doug Wilson

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

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