Solids and wetness - euphemisms

Benjamin Barrett gogaku at IX.NETCOM.COM
Fri Jun 6 07:30:53 UTC 2008

I wonder if the AHD4 adequately covers the diaper meaning of solids or

Relevant definitions:
solid n. 1. A substance having a definite shape and volume; one that
is neither liquid nor gaseous.
wetness n. 1. The condition of being wet. 2. Moisture

Citations -----
1. Why you'll LOVE using Fuzzi Bunz Cloth Diapers:[...]
(a) Soft, waterproof outer material keeps wetness & messes where they
belong preventing leaks....
(b) Fleece is naturally stain resistant and prevents solids from
sticking. (

2. Just dump solids in toilet, if it [sic] does not fall out then put
in hamper, the washing machine will do the rest.

3. (a) On most packs of disposable diapers, the user is instructed to
dispose of solids in the toilet before putting the diaper in the
(b) While they do, in some ways, present less of an impact on the
environment, they still contain many of the same chemicals, most
importantly the polymers that absorb your baby's wetness and form gel

4. Also, the fact that the diaper doesn't immediately wick away
wetness like the disposables means that our little one tells us when
his diaper is wet and this will make toilet training much easier. (

5. Chaffing or contact allergies can be culprits, but most often the
cause is simply wetness — chemicals and enzymes in urine and stools
can constitute quite the toxic cocktail when left to marinate a soft
baby's bottom. (

"Solids" seems the easier case. In citations 2 and 3 (a), in
particular, the item being referred to isn't solids in general, but
specifically feces. "Solids" seems to derive from "solid wastes."

"Wetness" is a little murkier. Nobody would confuse the nature of "my
jacket is wet" with "my diaper is wet" or "the wetness (of my jacket)"
with "the wetness (of my diaper)" but as there isn't a better
adjective readily available (such as urine-soaked), context is
potentially what makes the difference, rather than an actual separate

In citation 4, both "wet" and "wetness" seem to be ordinary on the
surface, but "wick away wetness" indicates the process of a diaper
funneling urine away from the source (the penis) to an absorbent pad
where the urine will not cause skin irritation. In citations 1 (a) and
3 (b), "wetness" seems to clearly indicate urine, though citation 5
specifically includes fecal moisture in the concept of "wetness."

I'm not sure how the line is defined, but it seems that both of these
have very specific meanings that deserve separate definitions. What do
others think? BB

The American Dialect Society -

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