"to ring changes", sexual, 1736

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Sun Apr 4 17:56:14 UTC 2010

Interdates OED2 1712--1763.  But casts a different light on the
meaning.from both Addison's 1712 "The Poet rung the Changes upon
these eight several Words" (under "ring v.2, 8.b") and the 1786 "To
initiate him into the art of what that gentleman stiled ringing the
changes; that is, ingeniously substituting a worse for a better
article, and decamping without a discovery" (under change n., 8.c, slang).

Boston Evening-Post, 1736 July 5, page 1, col. 2.  From the Political
State for April, 1736.  [EAN; _The Political State of Great Britain_
for 1736 is extant.]

"she invited these Guests home to her Master's House, where they
drank plentifully from 10 in the Morning till 4 in the Afternoon,
when Jane Andrews proposed to the Company (the Drummer, Chimney
sweeper and strange [that is, out-of-town] Woman) that they and she
should all go to Bed together; and thereupon she shut up the Doors
and Windows, and though 'twas but about 4 o'Clock in the Afternoon,
they stript, and all four went into one Bed together, (as the Maid
call'd it _to ring Changes_) and lay there till a Mob, hearing of
this Affair, surrounded the Door, and disturbed the happy Pairs"

What do slang dictionaries have for a sexual connotation?  Chapman
has simply "To make or try out variations, esp. ingeniously."


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