Mental masturbation

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Fri Aug 10 19:05:20 UTC 2012

After a blog commenter accused me (me!) of mental "masterbation," I looked
into the phrase. Though it's mostly used metaphorically now, in the way the
commenter used it, 100 years ago it referred to what we'd now call "(sexual)
fantasizing". That meaning is still hanging on, though I'm wondering if
there's a further distinction to be made between (1) imagining having
non-solo sex, and (2) imagining masturbating. That last meaning wouldn't
have occurred to me except for an Urban Dictionary definition (possibly
facetious) that seemed to suggest it. The sample usage went like this:

"Yea I’m masturbating in my head to her. … I’m still masturbating in my head
to her. Still not done, not done, Alright I’m done. I’m going to go make a
sandwich. Good Mental Masturbation. Actually, you want to go to Chipotle?"

The passage reminds me of a gag from Steve Martin's "Wild and Crazy Guy"
album. He said something like, "I know what you're saying. You're saying,
'Steve! Where do YOU find time to juggle?' Well, I juggle IN MY MIND! ...
whoops!" (as if he had just dropped one of his balls mentally).

I've written about it on the blog:


The American Dialect Society -

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