"to ring changes", sexual, 1736

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Apr 5 13:35:41 UTC 2010

If it makes any difference, I've never encountered "ring the changes" with
an explicit sexual meaning.

To "ring the bell" is easily comprehensible but not widely used

On Mon, Apr 5, 2010 at 9:07 AM, Joel S. Berson <Berson at att.net> wrote:

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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       "Joel S. Berson" <Berson at ATT.NET>
> Subject:      Re: "to ring changes", sexual, 1736
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 4/4/2010 09:06 PM, Cohen, Gerald Leonard wrote:
> >So, the reason why the 1736 maid used the expression "ring the
> >changes" seems clear.  A full-fledged orgy was about to get under
> >way, and "ring the changes" conveyed in a cutesy way all the
> >exertion/energy that would soon be expended plus, of course, most
> >likely the exchanging of partners.
> I would say the exchanging of partners is the primary connotation,
> given the four participants, and definitely drawn from bell
> ringing.  (The other associations add to the image.)  And for the
> exertions, one can read "The Nine Tailors" of Dorothy Sayers.
> Joel
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