"gun play"?

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Fri Jan 1 02:31:26 UTC 2010

It doesn't look like "horseplay" was a euphemism for anything in 1589.
The OED offers another sense from about the same time (1599, but given
sequential priority for some reason),
"Play in which a horse is used or takes part; theatrical horsemanship."

I've long assumed that the original reference was to the play of
high-spirited colts. (It may be only my imagination, however.)

Does _*arseplay_ even exist?


On Thu, Dec 31, 2009 at 4:48 PM, Robin Hamilton <
robin.hamilton2 at btinternet.com> wrote:

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Robin Hamilton <robin.hamilton2 at BTINTERNET.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "gun play"?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> > @Larry:
> >
> > So, "horseplay" has been used as a euphemism for "arseplay" since at
> > least the 16th c. Amazing.
> >
> > -Wilson
> As in, "Stop arsing around!" which I imagine is still current, and has to
> reflect UK rather than US English, since it makes no sense when couched as
> "Stop assing around."
> I am reminded, for whatever reason, of the (now Sir) David Frost's Younger
> Brother Joke, current in the sixties, which emerged obliquely from TWTWTW.
> {The punch-line of which wasn't, but perhaps should have been, "fribble
> off,
> Rudolph!"}
> Robin Hamilton
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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