[Ads-l] sleep with - phrase for sexual intimacy

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Sep 29 02:00:16 UTC 2015


Theresa Fisher wrote:
> I'm a journalist (I've reached out before. I write about sleep, mostly).
> I'm wondering about the origin of the phrase "sleep with" being used
> as a euphemism for sex. If anyone has insight, I'd really appreciate it.

The Oxford English Dictionary has an entry for the verb "sleep" that
lists the following sense:

I. intr. 1. b. Implying sexual intimacy or cohabitation. Also, with
around: to engage in sexual intercourse casually with a variety of
partners; to be sexually promiscuous (colloq.).

The first citation is dated 900. Below is an excerpt. I will try to
strip out the special characters but will probably miss some of them.

[Begin excerpt]
a900   Laws AElfred (Liebermann) Introd. 29   Gif hwa faemnan beswice
unbeweddode, and hire mid slaepe.

c1000   AElfric Genesis xxxix. 7   His hlaefdige lufode hine and cwaeo
to him: Slap mid me!

a1325  (c1250)    Gen. & Exod. (1968) l. 967   Foro sioen ghe bi abram
slep, Of hire leuedi nam ghe no kep.

c1386   Chaucer Sir Thopas 78   An elf queene shal my lemman be, And
slepe vnder my goore.
[End excerpt]

I would suggest examining the OED entry if you can gain access to it.

Garson

On Fri, Sep 25, 2015 at 2:03 PM, Theresa Fisher
<fisher.theresa at gmail.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Theresa Fisher <fisher.theresa at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "be absolved of" = "be confirmed or proved of"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Hi -
>
> I'm a journalist (I've reached out before. I write about sleep, mostly).
> I'm wondering about the origin of the phrase "sleep with" being used as a
> euphemism for sex. If anyone has insight, I'd really appreciate it. Thanks!
>
> On Fri, Sep 25, 2015 at 8:43 AM, Joel Berson <berson at att.net> wrote:
>
>> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
>> -----------------------
>> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>> Poster:       Joel Berson <berson at ATT.NET>
>> Subject:      Re: "be absolved of" = "be confirmed or proved of"
>>
>> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>>
>> As the news media begin to present Kane in a more favorable light, they
>> are=
>>  paraphrasing his utterance so that he no longer appears to be convicting
>> h=
>> imself.=C2=A0 For example, in the NY Times -- "Kane has not been charged
>> in=
>>  the case, and he told reporters last week that he had 'done nothing
>> wrong'=
>>  and that he expected to be exonerated."
>>

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