Hubba-hubba [Was: Aw, naw he di?n'!]

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Wed Nov 17 14:03:46 UTC 2010

Well-bred young women of the nineteenth century were taught never, never,
never, to "talk to strange men on the street."

Because said strangers, by trying to (in a later idiom) "make a pass," were
betraying their own lack of breeding and a possible disposition toward
sexual predation. Furthermore, given the mores of the time, trying to pick
up a strange woman implied that one thought she was "no better than she
should be" (i.e., a slut or lower).  This was regarded as an extreme insult.

There was an excellent chance than a "masher" was also a dangerous drunk or
lunatic.  Worse, he could be recruiting for a "white-slave ring."

And as if that weren't enough cause for violent reactions, remember that
women were expected to be a little bit hysterical when flustered, and that a
drunk, a criminal, or a maniac would likely be deterred only by screams and

At least that's my understanding of America's formerly endemic masher
situation. We have quite gone beyond it.


On Wed, Nov 17, 2010 at 4:33 AM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Hubba-hubba [Was: Aw, naw he di?n'!]
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Tue, Nov 16, 2010 at 8:13 AM, Jonathan Lighter
> <wuxxmupp2000 at> wrote:
> > In general, a "masher" merely tried to ingratiate himself with a woman,
> to
> > whom he had not been introduced, by making some chance remark intended
> > to spark a flirtatious conversation.
> >
> If that was all that it was, then why were girls, women, and ducks -
> in the narrow sense - portrayed in the movies, in the comics, and in
> books as reacting to it with violence?
> --
> -Wilson
> –––
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"––a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> –Mark Twain
> Once we recognize that we do not err out of laziness, stupidity,
> or evil intent, we can uncumber ourselves of the impossible burden of
> trying to be permanently right. We can take seriously the proposition
> that we could be in error, without necessarily deeming ourselves
> idiotic or unworthy.
>  –Kathryn Schulz
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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