"to ring changes", sexual, 1736

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 5 00:55:48 UTC 2010

"Put / shoot someone through the changes" has nothing to do with "ring
the the changes."


On Sun, Apr 4, 2010 at 3:50 PM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at yale.edu> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: "to ring changes", sexual, 1736
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 1:56 PM -0400 4/4/10, Joel S. Berson wrote:
>>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."
> Lovely cites.  There do indeed seem to be all sorts of changes one
> might ring, for better or worse.  For a related construction,
> invoking a different verb and a simile that wouldn't have been
> available in the 18th century, there's a 1970's verse from Warren
> Zevon, popularized (after alteration via gender reassignment surgery)
> by Linda Ronstadt as follows:
> Well, I met a man out in Hollywood,
> Now I ain't namin' names.
> Well, he really worked me over good,
> Just like Jesse James.
> Yes he really worked me over good,
> He was a credit to his gender.
> Put me through some changes, Lord,
> Sort of like a Waring blender.
> LH
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