[Lexicog] "meat market" as bodybuilders' slang

Patrick Hanks hanks at BBAW.DE
Mon May 24 15:29:41 UTC 2004

Is the following relevant to the bodybuilders' use of "meat market"? I.e. is there a sexual implication?

>From some fiction text in the the British National Corpus:

He said, "Tell me about the hotel."  
"A few itinerants. Some labourers from the sticks living cheap while they get the job finished. One or two people who'll be sleeping rough if they can't beg the room rate. The streets round about are a meat market; couples rent by the half-hour. ... I don't think many of them are man and wife."

And from unscripted conversation in the spoken BNC:

A:  thirty quid to get in --
B:  cor.
A:  -- but it's so expensive, these night life places, I mean they charge the earth for drinks and that, don't they? 
B: Yeah. Yours is Crystals. Any good? 
A: Yeah, ain't bad. 
B: It's good? 
A: 's not bad. It's a bit of a meat market. There's loads of like, well, that's how these places are anyway. All you do, discos and that are always the same, you got women dancing round their handbags, Tracy and Stacy and all those. Tracy, Sam, and Cheryl. .... 

NODE explains it as:

"meat market  informal a meeting place such as a bar or disco for people seeking sexual encounters."

Merriam Webster says:

"meat market  a depersonalizing environment in which people are treated as sexual or economic resources."

Interesting difference. ... Is this a British/American difference, or a historical difference?

* * * 

Incidentally, I think the NODE register label here ought to be "figurative" rather than "informal".  MW does not have a label at all. 

It is unfortunate that dictionaries do not record that expressions such as "meat market" are used both literally (compositionally) and as conventional metaphors -- in contrast to, say, "red herring", which as far as I know is never used compositionally. 

Patrick Hanks

----- Original Message ----- 
From: <fieldworks_support at sil.org>
To: <lexicographylist at yahoogroups.com>
Sent: Monday, May 24, 2004 4:26 PM
Subject: RE: [Lexicog] "meat market" as bodybuilders

> Fritz,
> The expression "meat market" to mean a gym or body builders hangout, is a
> satiric expression that such a place represents people valued or not valued
> simply on the basis of their physique, in the way that animals in a real
> meat market would be valued or not valued based on the quantity or quality
> of their meat.
> Steve White, Jaars language software support
> 704-843-6337, 1-800-215-7813
> Yahoo! Groups Links
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