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

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 7 16:21:54 EDT 2017


_The Stag Party_, which also contains the now-blandly bawdy verse of Eugene
Field, seems to have been "published" in Boston or thereabouts.

Some years ago I posted a list of sleazy Civil War slang, but I don't
recall "pecker" being included

JL

On Mon, Aug 7, 2017 at 4:00 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu>
wrote:

> > On Aug 7, 2017, at 3:51 PM, Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> wrote:
> >
> > 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.
>
> Right, it’s marked as “venery” (no duh), but not as an Americanism.  No
> one in our poker group has ever called “pecker poker” as a Dealer’s Choice
> variant.  Seems like the male players would be somewhat at a
> disadvantage—unless, of course, it’s at a stag party.  Wonder which side of
> the pond that 1888 cite emerged from; the citation seems a bit...
> underspecified.
>
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > 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
> >>
> >
> >
> >
> > --
> > "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the
> truth."
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
> > The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org
>



-- 
"If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the truth."

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