schlorgers and s(c)hlongers

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sat Mar 24 08:05:28 UTC 2001

Following Messrs. Landau and Horn:

>>Note the adjective "big" in "big schlorgers".  The writer would use "big"
>>to describe the size of the men's sex organs rather than the size of the men.

I agree, tentatively. (In principle, one might suppose that many of the men
must actually have been rather ordinary in size, in both senses ....)
However, one must be cautious in judging what was "natural" usage,
regarding a single example at the distance of 140 years.

>>By analogy with "trouser serpent" = "penis", the derivation German
>>"Schlange" = "snake" is plausible.

Yes, it's plausible. It's plausible that there may have been a word
"schlonger" in German/English ca. 1860, too. It's also plausible that there
may have been a specific transcription error. It's even plausible that all
of these suppositions are true ... but is it "virtually certain"? I don't
find it so.

Here's another "plausible" hypothesis. Perhaps the original German word was
"Schl├Ąger" (more or less = "striker"), maybe written "schlaeger" by the PA
soldier, mistranscribed "schlorger" (depending on the handwriting, I think
maybe about as likely as "on" > "or"). This has the advantage that the
German word is known to have really existed (unlike "Schlonger" AFAIK).
"Schl├Ąger" = "[baseball, cricket] bat", among other things, a fine
sex-organ metaphor, and also = "ruffian" or so, so it could go either way.

All this is conjecture in a vacuum, of course. If I had to bet, I suppose
I'd prefer "schlorger" = "penis" over "schlorger" = "soldier", but not by
much. And I'm still in the dark as to what word this really is. Maybe Lowry
or some other scholar has seen a comparable word several times, and can be
more certain of its spelling and meaning.

Relatively old direct English cognates of "Schlange" have the usual
spelling "slang" (no "sch-") (from Dutch, I guess), meaning (1) cannon,
from 16th Century, (2) strip of land [speculative etymology], from 17th
Century, (3) chain [cant], from 19th Century, (4) strip of water, from 19th

The modern Dutch cognate, "slang", means (1) tube or hose, (2) snake, (3)
bad woman, as I understand it.

Yiddish-derived English "sh-"/"sch-" words for "penis" include "shmuck",
"shlong", and "shvantz" (various spellings). All of these appear in
standard German ("Schmuck", "Schlange", "Schwanz", resp. = "jewel",
"snake", "tail"). Is ANY of these known to have had an English-language
version meaning "penis" at the time of the Civil War? Or even before ca.
1900? [But ... I note that only "shlong" seems to correspond to a standard
Dutch word. However, the spelling "sch-" would point to High German rather
than Dutch; but I don't know much about Low German orthography in Civil War

-- Doug Wilson

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