Jonathon Green slang at ABECEDARY.NET
Fri Nov 18 18:29:03 UTC 2005

Laurence Horn wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "Horny"
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>> Laurence Horn wrote:
>>> It would be interesting to track the earliest uses of "horny" as a
>>> sex-neutral term, since presumably the "horn" < 'erection' derivation
>>> would have had to undergo some loss of transparency before the
>>> adjective could be felicitously applied to female referents.
>>> L. Horn
>> An early use, referring to a female, albeit by a male speaker:
>> c.1864 'Good Old Times' in Anon. _Rakish Rhymer_ (1917) 107: Then to
>> make her horney-hot, / How I'll tickle round her twat.
>> JG
> Nice catch.  Obviously this "twat" does not reference "some part of a
> nun's garb", Browning to the contrary notwithstanding.
Small but perhaps pertinent point. The cut-and-paste from my database
seems (I didn't look before I mailed it) to have elided the 'horney' and
'hot', and thus made it a single hyphenated adjective 'horney-hot'. This
is erroneous. In fact they are separated as 'horney - hot' (in other
words, the 'hot', sexually aroused, is defining the 'horney').

Although at first sight it would also seem to be linked to 'horn', the
penis, horn, and its variations (wear the horns, etc), in the context of
cuckoldry is much older (ME, then mid-16th C) and apparently (i.e. as
stated in the OED) comes from an old German farming practice of grafting
the spurs of a castrated cock on the root of the severed comb. These
transplants would grow into horns, sometimes several inches long. The
German word _hahnreh_ or _hahnrei_, meaning cuckold, originally meant
capon, a castrated cock; thus note Ned Ward ‘The Dancing School’ (1700):
‘I should hate a Husband with horns, were they even of my own grafting’.
All that said, an alternative theory bases the term on the posture of
‘missionary postion’ intercourse, adopted in this context by the
adulterous couple, in which the man's body represents a head and the
woman’s legs, spread and raised, are his 'horns'.


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