"the Big [initial]"

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Thu Sep 1 13:40:16 UTC 2011


On Sep 1, 2011, at 9:07 AM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:

> My take, in addition, has been that the advertisers don't want to scare the
> average American male with a word of many syllables; moreover, they don't
> want to say such a word more than once.  It's off-putting.
>
>
> JL

Maybe, but like Charlie my take is that it's a standard euphemism.  In a recent paper on taboo I class "Low T" with "E.D." (along with its ancestor, VD) and "P.E." (not the gym kind) as PBIs, for Plain Brown Initialisms.

LH

>
> On Thu, Sep 1, 2011 at 8:26 AM, Charles C Doyle <cdoyle at uga.edu> wrote:
>
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Charles C Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU>
>> Subject:      Re: "the Big [initial]"
>>
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>
>> Not the same, of course, but have y'all been noticing the TV commercials
>> hawking virility boosters for the treatment of "low T" ("T" for
>> 'testosterone')?  I suppose it's easier to admit that one is short on T than
>> short on the male hormone itself.
>>
>> --Charlie
>>
>> ________________________________________
>> From: American Dialect Society [ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU] on behalf of
>> Laurence Horn [laurence.horn at YALE.EDU]
>> Sent: Wednesday, August 31, 2011 7:59 PM
>>
>>
>> On Aug 31, 2011, at 7:27 PM, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
>>
>>> HDAS includes a number of these (e.g., "the Big D" - 'Dallas').
>>>
>> And it sports three entries for The Big O, including one for Opium as well
>> as the one you were thinking of.  Not to be confused with "The Big --Oh", as
>> in the Big 6-Oh (for the birthday of that number), which is also listed in
>> HDAS and which strikes me as becoming more frequently used (or maybe it's
>> just used more frequently as a euphemism for people whose ages are tracking
>> mineā€¦)
>>
>> LH
>>
>>> Here's an antedating:
>>>
>>> 1917 _The Marines Magazine_  (Dec.) 20-21: U.S.S. "Utah." ...Brothers
>> Mace
>>> and Jordan...were presented with a gorgeous bouquet of flowers apiece
>> just
>>> prior to the BIG "U's" departure for sea.
>>>
>>> JL
>>>
>>
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>
>
>
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."
>
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