porno as a count noun

Neal Whitman nwhitman at AMERITECH.NET
Thu Nov 13 15:29:30 UTC 2008

I've heard 'porno' as a count noun meaning specificaly a pornographic movie
only a few times. I don't remember exactly where, but it always struck me as
odd. I figured it must just be common usage among makers and consumers of
pornographic movies.

I also noticed that the ads (at least here in central Ohio) are trying to
ditch the 'porno', and found this explanation:

"Remember how we told you that some markets refused to run advertisements
for Kevin Smith's new R-Rated comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno due to the
word 'porno' being in the title? Well it appears that The Weinstein Co has
altered the movie's title for some television spots in certain markets."

Neal Whitman
Email: nwhitman at

----- Original Message -----
From: "Lynne Murphy" <m.l.murphy at SUSSEX.AC.UK>
Sent: Thursday, November 13, 2008 5:46 AM
Subject: porno as a count noun

> ---------------------- Information from the mail
> header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Lynne Murphy <m.l.murphy at SUSSEX.AC.UK>
> Subject:      porno as a count noun
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Am thinking about the current film title "Zack and Miri make a porno".  I
> first heard 'porno' as a singular count noun outside the US  (it may have
> gone back to my South African days in the 90s...I can't remember--all I
> can
> remember is thinking "that's not what I would say").  The OED's (current
> 2008 draft) entry gives a plural American example as its first evidence of
> it, but the first singular one (2005) is from a UK magazine (see below).
> I'm wondering whether there's any evidence of this usage being more
> popular
> in the UK prior to the film title--or whether I'm so out of touch with AmE
> slang that I don't realize that it's very clearly  AmE import to BrE.
> Part of why this strikes me as British is because of the British tendency
> to say things like "have a McDonald's" (i.e. eat a McDonald's
> hamburger/meal) or "get a Starbucks".  I suppose they're not the same
> thing
> at all, but oh well, it still strikes me that way.
> (See:
> <>)
> I'm thinking about this because of my current call for nominations for
> British-to-AmE Word of the Year (and AmE-to-BrE words too).  Please
> comment
> on my blog if you have other nominations for those categories:
> <>
> Ta,
> Lynne
> (The OED entry:)
> 2. A pornographic film.
> 1971 Daily Intelligencer (Doylestown, Pa.) 6 Feb. 10/3 Quality..gave
> ground
> to quantity with a flood of Japanese and Scandinavian pictures, some
> pornos
> and old fashioned horror flicks. 1988 tr. E. Reitz in E. Rentschler West
> German Filmmakers on Film xlv. 114 It is completely irrelevant how good
> the
> individual films are... Even the soft-core pornos..and German weepy wares.
> 2005 Uncut June 148/5 Rickard and Geko shooting a porno in their dingy
> flat
> with the help of Tess.
> Dr M Lynne Murphy
> Senior Lecturer in Linguistics and English Language
> Arts B135
> University of Sussex
> Brighton BN1 9QN
> phone: +44-(0)1273-678844
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list