Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Wed Sep 26 14:36:39 UTC 2007

OK, a person (at least a male; do the same expressions commonly refer to female activities of the corresponding sort?) can "take a X"; X can be "whiz" or "leak" or "piss" or "pee" or "shit" or "dump" or "dooky" or possibly other eliminations of a nether sort--but NOT *"turd" or *"urine."

The object of "take" designates an action (an act of X-ing), not just the substance deposited. Even though the permissible X's are clearly nouns (preceded by the definite article), the allowable X words can, in other environments, function as verbs, whereas "turd" and "urine" can't.

There must be exceptions or outright contradictions to this little hypothesis!

And then there are upper-body eliminations: We can't *"take a spit" or *"take a vomit." In our expressions, "take" seems to imply premeditation, deliberation, perhaps even a certain formality.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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