"make love"

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 18 14:54:21 UTC 2014

Some years ago it was observed here that OED had a huge gap between the
"clearly innocent" meaning of "make love" and the clearly euphemistic
meaning in 1950.

Since then, the entry has been revised to include three earlier exx. The
one from Orwell, 1934 ("Why is master always so angry with me when he has
made love to me?") seems very plausible, though nowadays the preposition
"with" is probably preferred to "to."

I'm skeptical of the two earlier exx., however:

1927 ...Jimmy embraces Margie LaMont and goes through with her the business
of making love to her by lying on top of her on a couch, each embracing the

This is decribes a scene in a play by Mae West. It is hard to believe that
the on-stage action portrayed sexual intercourse.

1929 ...Besides all the big times we had many small ways of making love and
we tried putting thoughts in the other one's head while we were in
different rooms.

This too seems very ambiguous.


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

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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