Jism, was: "Jazz" did not have a sexual origin

James Smith jsmithjamessmith at YAHOO.COM
Fri Mar 2 22:03:23 UTC 2001

--- "Douglas G. Wilson" <douglas at NB.NET> wrote:
> ....Popik and Cohen cite a news item from 1916:
> <<"Jaz-m to Be Defined by
> Berkeley Minister.>>. "Jaz-m" is apparently equated
> to "pep".
> I know of only three other comprehensible examples
> of "jasm" -- the ones
> which are in DARE and HDAS. I've read the texts in
> which they appear, and
> none has a sexual content or even a "questionable"
> one: one is in a
> description of an apparently not-very-hardworking
> man by a woman, one is in
> a description of a woman by a man who apparently
> admires her spiritedness,
> the third seems to refer to a man's charisma
> (possibly he's a politician).
> The years are 1860-1886.
> In the same period, in the citations in DARE and
> HDAS, "jism" is given with
> essentially the same sense. It does not appear as
> "semen" until slightly
> later (1888 is the earliest probable example I see,
> 1899 the earliest
> entirely unequivocal one).
> Two possibilities, assuming that "jism" and "jasm"
> are essentially the same
> word:
> (1) The original sense was actually "semen" but this
> sense was seldom or
> never recorded in print for a long time and was
> supplanted in the standard
> language so completely by the metaphor
> "spirit"/"vigor" by (say) 1860 that
> "jism"/"jasm" was comfortably used by and about
> women in print during the
> late 19th Century. [This would be an example of an
> "ameliorated word".]
> (2) The original sense was actually more like
> "vigor"/"spirit", and the
> "semen" sense appeared later -- and perhaps didn't
> become widespread until
> (say) 1930.
> Each of these has points in its favor. If someone
> has additional citations
> or other evidence, I would be interested.
> -- Doug Wilson

I came across the word "ji" in Chapter 4 (of Book 4) -
A RUNAWAY MATCH - of Dickens' "Our Mutual Friend",

Is "ji" related to "jasm" and "jism"?

".... To which Gruff and Glum responded that he see
her married this morning, my Beauty, and that if it
warn't a liberty he wished her *ji* and the fairest of
fair wind and weather; further, in a general way
requesting to know what cheer? and scrambling up on
his two wooden legs to salute, hat in hand,
ship-shape, with the gallantry of a man-of-warsman and
a heart of oak."

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