"gun play"?

Robin Hamilton robin.hamilton2 at BTINTERNET.COM
Fri Jan 1 03:10:46 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?
> JL

The closest term that I can think of that might be apposite would be "arse

I'm away from my physical reference sources at the moment, so I don't know
if this is picked up by Jonathon Green or the various (re)incarnations of

UrbanDictionary, from a quick glance, is pretty inept for this, but
Wictionary seems to the point:


            arse bandit
            Definition from Wiktionary, a free dictionary

            arse bandit (plural arse bandits)

               1. (British, derogatory, slang) A male homosexual.

                * The term is used to refer to any gay man, whether or not
he actually practices anal sex (as the term suggests). While it is
derogatory when used by heterosexuals, it is also used jokingly by gay men
to refer to themselves or each other.


There's perhaps a semantic nexus whereby terms are generated, or earlier
terms redefined, through the influence of Wild West Lexis.

Thus "horse opera", and "horseplay" leading to "gunplay" (and itself
shifting in [possible] meaning).

For what it's worth, I'd see "arsing around" (which has no particular gay
connotation in UK English) as related to and probably derived from "horsing
around", the latter a coinage from "horseplay".

But I'm guessing here, really.

Robin Hamilton

> 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
>> {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
> --
> "If the truth is half as bad as I think it is, you can't handle the
> truth."
> ------------------------------------------------------------
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