early "tits"

Charles C Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Tue Jun 10 17:47:42 UTC 2014

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"Tit" seems to be the historically normal version of "teat."  The OED illustrates mammary "tit" from c950 to a1825  (s.v. "teat").  The cross-referenced "tit" spelling (s.v. "tit" n6), curiously, is said to be "orig. U.S."

Isn't the question "When (and why) did folks start saying (and writing) "teat"?  (The OED suggests French influence.)


Poster:       Jonathan Lighter

ca1840 _The New Cockalorum Songster_, in P. Spedding & P. Watt, eds. _Bawdy
Songbooks of the Romantic Period_ II (London: Pickering & Chatto, 2011) 7:
She gammon'd fits, to flash her tits.

"Ca1840" is a little conservative as a date: the songbooks likely date from
the mid '30s.

This appears to be the only ex. of "tits" in the entire 1000-page plus
assemblage, which includes numerous "f--k"s and "c--t"s (letter-expurgated
but present nonetheless).

The usual mammary words are "bubbies" and "bubs."


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

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