Solids and wetness - euphemisms

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Fri Jun 6 14:38:21 UTC 2008

And certainly the VERB "wet" meaning 'void urine' merits--and has--its own entry (OED 5c).


---- Original message ----
>Date: Fri, 6 Jun 2008 09:10:24 -0400
>From: Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>Subject: Re: Solids and wetness - euphemisms
>At 12:30 AM -0700 6/6/08, Benjamin Barrett wrote:
>>I wonder if the AHD4 adequately covers the diaper meaning of solids or wetness.
>I wonder if these are actual diaper meanings or recoverable narrowed uses in context.  I'm pretty sure we want euphemistic uses of "accident" (let's see...yup, AHD: 1c. 'An instance of involuntary urination or defecation in one's clothing'), but it seems to me that the parallel uses of 'solids' and 'wetness' are still more tethered
>to their, shall we say, context of occurrence (or direct allusions as in the commercials/ads).  In general, there will be uses of most words (sometimes but not always euphemistic ones) that narrow down the frame of reference from 'X' to 'relevant X', but (while I'm no lexicographer) I think we'd need to find a sufficient critical mass of context-untethered uses of this sort (as with 'accident' or
>'waste') to warrant a separate subentry.  In those E.D. commercials, the guy often refers to his "problem" by meaningfully lowering his voice and it's clear what sort of problem he has in mind, but I wouldn't expect dictionaries to list 'impotence' (itself, of course, a narrowing-derived euphemism of centuries past) as a separate subsense of "problem".
>>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 -
>The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list