Diddle (was: Mice-tronauts)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Apr 29 13:19:59 UTC 2002

At 10:41 PM -0400 4/28/02, Baker, John wrote:
>         The OED considers the sexual and fraud meanings of "diddle"
>to belong to separate words; it traces the "to cheat or swindle"
>meaning back to 1806, but the "to copulate" meaning back only to
>1879.  Still, it seems likely that, as with similar terms (screw,
>fuck), the cheating meaning derives from the sexual meaning.  If
>this theory is correct, then "diddle" must have been used in the
>sexual sense much earlier than the OED shows.  I can antedate it
>slightly, to 1877:
>         >>I reckon you want to know how often I 'diddled' her, and
>all this. As near as I can recollect, I had sexual intercourse with
>her three times.<<
>Duval v. Davey, 32 Ohio St. 604, 606 (1877).

FWIW, Farmer & Henley's _Slang and Its Analogues_ (Vol. II, 1891) has
the two as separate senses of the same entry, and also derives the
"(venery)" sense 'to copulate' from the substantive, which sports the
'penis' sense in between those for 'gin' (the drink) and 'swindle'.
Unfortunately, no specific cites are given, so no dating is possible.
Oh, there's also "diddly-pout", for 'the female pudendum'.


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