Q: "jewgaged"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Nov 2 01:30:14 UTC 2009

At 8:49 PM -0500 11/1/09, Douglas G. Wilson wrote:
>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.

So your speculation is "jewgage" = 'short-skirted', as in our thread
from last February? Could be, in which case there's no blend with
"engaged".  What's the source of the "jew" part, though?  The "jill"
element below is much less likely to be part of "jewgage" than of
"jewlark", for obvious phonological reasons.

>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.

Adventitious = 'eggcornish'?  Not implausible on the face of it.
Looks like DARE splits the difference, relating the first part of
"jill" as you say but the second part to the verb "lark" ('flirt')
from Wright's English Dialect Dictionary.  While -ock is a diminutive
suffix, wouldn't it be more likely to create a noun as in "hillock"?
"To jillock" seems less likely.


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