Victoria Neufeldt vneufeldt at M-W.COM
Wed Jun 16 13:27:02 UTC 1999

I just discovered that this sense of 'bodywork' was added for the 1996
copyright update of Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dict., 10th Edition.  I
have not checked our citation files, but it must have been in use for at
least a few years before that date.


Victoria Neufeldt, Merriam-Webster, Inc.
47 Federal Street, P.O. Box 281
Springfield, MA  01102
Tel. (413) 734-3134 ext 124
Fax  (413) 827-7262

> -----Original Message-----
> From: American Dialect Society [mailto:ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU]On Behalf
> Of James E. Clapp
> Sent: Wednesday, June 16, 1999 3:16 AM
> Subject: Re: Bodywork
> Bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:
> > Is it "bodywork" anywhere else?  When did "bodywork" come into vogue?
> I concur with Andrea Vine that "bodywork" has been around a long time as
> a term New Agey term for massage (of any nonsexual type).
> I await Barry's definitive report on when, why, and by whom the term was
> coined; but I speculate that it caught on for various reasons including
> (1) it provides a neat parallel to the noncorporeal "work" of therapy and
> the like (working through your anger at your parents, working out your
> ambivalence about bisexuality, working on reaching a better space), (2)
> at the same time, it ties in nicely with healthy physical "work" (working
> out with Jane Fonda, working on your abs and thighs), (3) it fits with
> the trend of jamming words together in form streamlined names like
> Citibank and Banccorp and Buycomp and webnetworking, (4) it avoided the
> ambiguity of "massage," which had become a standard euphemism for
> prostitution and risked evoking snickers even when the word was clearly
> not being used in reference to sexual services.
> No doubt the trendinesss of the term "bodywork" has now commended it to
> those who used to offer sexual "massage"--the latter term having begun to
> sound stodgy and (ironically) too much like something you'd get from a
> very stern Swede.
> Now we'll have to see if the assorted (nonsexual) massage therapists come
> up with yet another term to distinguish themselves from the prostitutes,
> or whether they stick with "bodywork" on the ground that it still sounds
> pretty trendy and they'll never be able to monopolize any term for what
> they do anyway.  (Complicating the picture is what I understand to be
> some controversy within the field as to whether "legitimate" massage
> must, or even can, necessarily be free from erotic content--though I
> think the way they treat you in some schools of massage you'd have to be
> pretty masochistic to find it erotic.)
> James E. Clapp

More information about the Ads-l mailing list