[Ads-l] shoot one's wad (1860)

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 7 15:51:08 EDT 2017


1888 _The Stag Party_ [n.p., n.d] [unp.]: Why is the bird hammering for
worms on an old dry tree like a boy making water? He does it with his
little pecker.

1916 Henry Cary _Slang of Venery_ [TS.] II 29: Pecker -- The penis.

1942 W. L. McAtee _Supplement to Rural Dialect of Grant County, Indiana, in
the 'Nineties_(pvtly. ptd.) 7: Pecker poker, n., game of poker in which
losers had to submit their peckers to blows with “hands” of cards.

F&H do include some American terms, though "pecker" is not marked as one of
them.


JL

On Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 3:19 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
wrote:

> > On Aug 7, 2017, at 3:00 PM, Charles C Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU> wrote:
> >
> > Not to mention "Keep your pecker up."
> >
> >
> > —Charlie
>
> Interesting.  The web hits ascribe the non-sexual meanings (where a pecker
> is a mouth or face, as in “keep your chin up”) to British usage, while the
> genital meaning is ascribed to U.S. usage.  But while Farmer & Henley,
> hardly American-based, does gloss “keep your pecker up” as ‘to be of good
> heart’, “pecker” itself has three senses listed in F&H:
>
> 1. The appetite
> 2. Courage; spirits; good cheer.
> 3. The penis
>
> LH
>
> P.S.  Just thought to check OED, and sure enough, while it has cites back
> to 1845 for “keep…pecker up” under sense 4: “courage, resolution”, it
> identifies sense 5, ‘the penis’, as “chiefly U.S.”  But curiously the only
> cite predating Henry Miller--
>
> 1936   H. Miller Black Spring 142   Ought to stand on Times Square with my
> pecker in my hand and piss in the gutter.
>
> --is, yes, that same 1902 entry in Farmer & Henley, which is presumably
> U.K. rather than U.S., although no cite is given.
>
> Now if HDAS just went to P...
>
> > ________________________________
> > From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of
> Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> > Sent: Monday, August 7, 2017 12:37:54 PM
> > To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> > Subject: Re: shoot one's wad (1860)
> >
> > I agree that this one didn’t start out as graphic, but given a shift in
> architecture of modern weaponry and thus in the nature of firing
> mechanisms, and the lack of any commensurate shift in the…um, firing
> mechanism and reloading possibilities of the human male anatomy, it’s
> likely that the expression often gets reanalyzed along these lines assumed
> by Mr. Weixel.  Reminds me of a similar shift (or possible shift) in the
> way we understand “(it’s) down to the short hairs”, as discussed awhile
> back by Safire:
> >
> > http://www.nytimes.com/1987/01/11/magazine/on-language.html
> >
> > Wiktionary invokes only non-sexual allusions:
> > https://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/down_to_the_short_strokes
> >
> > Various other cites adduce rowing, golfing, or sexual origins.  But who
> really knows? (Not necessarily a rhetorical question with our group!)  In
> any case, it’s not as obvious as (to use TV warning abbreviations) the V
> rather than S origin of “shoot one’s wad”.
> >
> > LH
> >
> >> On Aug 7, 2017, at 11:41 AM, Ben Zimmer <bgzimmer at gmail.com> wrote:
> >>
> >> This expression is in the news because of a quote from Sen. Orrin Hatch:
> >>
> >> http://www.politico.com/story/2017/08/07/trump-obamacare-
> congress-tax-reform-241340
> >> "We’re not going back to health care. We’re in tax now. As far as I’m
> >> concerned, they shot their wad on health care and that’s the way it is.
> I’m
> >> sick of it."
> >>
> >> On Twitter, one reporter called the expression "graphic," likely
> assuming
> >> it originally referred to ejaculation.
> >>
> >> https://twitter.com/NateWeixel/status/894570374989582336
> >>
> >> But as has been discussed here in the past, the original metaphorical
> >> foundation of "shoot one's wad" has to do with the wadding used for
> loading
> >> muskets and cannons and such.
> >>
> >> Here's the earliest metaphorical usage I've found, in the sense of "use
> up
> >> all of one's resources" (in this case, rhetorical resources).
> >>
> >> Clearfield (Pa.) Republican, Aug. 15, 1860, p. 2, col. 5
> >> He, too, was called to the stand, and after torturing himself severely
> some
> >> thirty minutes, sat down -- not that the audience were tired of him, by
> any
> >> means; but the gentleman _had shot his wad_.
> >> https://www.newspapers.com/image/?spot=12925332
> >>
> >> --bgz
> >>
> >> ------------------------------------------------------------
> >> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>



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