Whore's Bath

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Mon Nov 24 19:15:19 UTC 2008

On Mon, Nov 24, 2008 at 1:55 PM, Scot LaFaive <slafaive at gmail.com> wrote:
> I'm getting this from "Austin Powers" where the hero mentions "whore's
> bath" as a quick wash of the sexual essentials. I see it listed in
> Urban Dictionary, but that doesn't really mean much. Anyone heard of
> this outside the context of the movie, maybe even prior to the 1997
> movie?

It's in the new Cassell's and the new Partridge, dating to WWII if not earlier.
Two cites from Google Book Search:

1944 A.J. Liebling _The Road Back to Paris_ 242 The helmet may also serve on
occasion as a bathtub. The bather fills it with water, removes one article of
clothing at a time, rubs the water hastily over the surface thus exposed, and
replaces the garment before taking off another one. This is called taking a
whore's bath.
1950 Hyman E. Goldin _Dictionary of American Underworld Lingo_ 237 Whore's bath.
(P) A light sponge-bath, usually with cold water, taken in one's cell. [Note: A
bath once a week is still standard prison routine even in the most progressive

--Ben Zimmer

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

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