"Horny" + HORNED

neil neil at TYPOG.CO.UK
Sat Nov 19 09:04:04 UTC 2005

on 11/18/05 4:38 PM, Laurence Horn at laurence.horn at YALE.EDU 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"
--> -
>> In a message dated 11/18/05 7:37:42 AM, douglas at NB.NET writes:
>>>> Ca.1963, IIRC, the late, great Raven McDavid reviewed a slang dictionary
>>> for
>>>> Language. He noted that the compiler claimed that the word, "horny," in the
>>>> sexual sense was "of unknown origin." McDavid then stated that anyone
>>>> familiar with common farm animals knows the origin of the sexual sense of
>>>> "horny." Further deponent sayeth not.
>>>> Does anyone know what in hell he was talking about?
>>> I don't know for sure. Maybe I haven't been familiar enough with the
>>> animals.
>>> Me, I'd naively assume "horny" < "horn" = "erection" as shown in HDAS.
>>> Perhaps it's just that many animals (in season) have more conspicuous and
>>> unconcealed sexual excitement than typical humans do?
>>> -- Doug Wilson
>>> This would be my guess. I have a vague memory of discussing this word with
>> Raven, and while I am not sure that his in-person explanation was much less
>> opaque than the written one, Doug's conjecture strikes me as the right one.
>> Whether or not Raven was also conjecturing I cannot say for sure,
>> but it sounds like
>> his etymology owes a lot to "stands to reason."
> 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

Not so much 'horny' as 'horned' (of a female). Don't think it's a typo:

'Twenty minutes later we were back, sun-dried and sunbathing.
My top was off and I was horned again - after being leered at
sunbathing in just a g-string.'
--Suzie SleaZe, 'BeachSlut', 1997 at

--Neil Crawford

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