Trait on, hate on, etc.

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu May 25 22:38:30 UTC 2006

Merciful speed, Jesse! That originated as a black thang, needless to
say. I think Charlie has pinned the origin. It's just an expansion of
the "kiss on" and "love on" that have been traditional Southern usages
at least as far north as Louisville, Saint Louis, Cincinnatuh (all of
the black people that I know from Cincinnati resolve the final vowel
as shwa, which spelling I prefer to "schwa"), Indianapolis, and

Teasingly asked about the hickeys on her neck, a St. Louis cousin
replied, "That's where _that nigger_ (= "my boy friend") been kissing
on me." (The unstressed         "that" makes it clear that it's her
boy friend that she's referring to. If she had given his name, I still
would have had to ask who he was with respect to her. She being ten
years my junior, I didn't know the names of any of her friends.)

BTW, in BE, a "hickey" is _not_ the mark left by a kiss. Rather, it's
the knot or lump that rises as a consequence of having been struck on
the head.

Damn, man! Where you get that hickey? Look like somebody done went
upside your head with a league-ball (= "baseball" in St. Louis) bat!

I don't know any special BE term for the mark left by a kiss. I once
_read_ the term,  "tiger bite," in a book by a black author. But
"(kiss-)mark" is all that I've ever heard or used.



On 5/25/06, Jesse Sheidlower <jester at> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jesse Sheidlower <jester at PANIX.COM>
> Subject:      Re: Trait on, hate on, etc.
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> On Thu, May 25, 2006 at 07:41:35AM -0700, Jonathan Lighter wrote:
> > 35 years ago the common verb "dig" (to like) was frequently augmented with "on" in white, semi-hippie student speech in N.Y.C. :
> >
> > "I could tell she was diggin' on it!"
> >
> >   It seemed like a novelty at the time.
> "I ain't Jewish, man, I just don't dig on swine."
> -- Pulp Fiction
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

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