[Ads-l] Venus Callipyga (and a colleague)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Apr 23 00:01:58 UTC 2021

In the same day’s paper (at least calculating from the printed version dropped off on our doorstep this morning), we have the semantically not unrelated “ecdysiastical” from an obit for Tempest Storm (not her real name, but apparently a happily chosen one): 

"Routinely named in the same ardent breath as the great 20th-century ecdysiasts Lili St. Cyr, Blaze Starr and Gypsy Rose Lee, Ms. Storm was every inch as ecdysiastical as they, and for far longer.”

Sticking to the adjective and adverb (without stripping down to the nominal “ecdysiast”), a search of the Times archives turns up (at least) two instances of “ecdysiastic” and one of “ecdysiastically” but none of “ecdysiastical”. This may be a “Times first”: https://www.reddit.com/r/NYTFirsts/comments/mvkxnc/ecdysiastical/.

OED has no entry for “ecdysiastical”, but helpful suggests I must have meant “ecclesiastical”.  Close enough for…well, you decide what sort of work. The OED does confirm (correctly?) that the nominal “ecdysiast” tracks back to a 1940 coinage by Mencken:

"It might be a good idea to relate strip-teasing in some way..to the associated zoölogical phenomenon of molting... A resort to the scientific name for molting, which is _ecdysis_, produces both _ecdysist_ and _ecdysiast_.” 


> On Apr 22, 2021, at 4:44 AM, Stephen Goranson <goranson at DUKE.EDU> wrote:
> NY Times, Ap. 21, “What happened to Vikki Dougan? The Model Once Known as ‘The Back’…” reported she inspired a 1961 song that mentioned her “callipygian cleft.”
> OED callipygian, adj. (with examples from 1831ff) etymology adds “Compare the following earlier attestations of the plural noun callipygae ( < post-classical Latin callipygae , feminine plural (1556 or earlier)):
> 1624   T. Heywood Γυναικεῖον vi. 297   From which time, euer after, the two young marryed wiues were called Callipygae.
> 1646   Sir T. Browne Pseudodoxia Epidemica iv. vi. 195   Callipygæ and women largely composed behinde.
> With the form calipygean<https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/26445?redirectedFrom=callipygian#eid1173603050> compare -ean suffix<https://www.oed.com/view/Entry/58948#eid5896753>.
> N.E.D. (1888) indicates that the phrase ‘Callipygian Venus’ was in use before 1800, but evidence is lacking.”
> Maybe so, though close is John Breval, Remarks on several parts of Europe:
> relating chiefly to their antiquities and history. Collected upon the spot in several tours since the year 1723… (London, 1738) p. 27 [GoogleBooks]:
> One Temple there [in Sicily] was among the rest that deserves particular Notice, not so much upon the Account of its Dedication to Venus , by the very singular Epithet of Callipyga , (Pulchris natibus ornata ) as from the ( b ) Contest between two handsome Syracusian Sisters, to which it owed its Rise.
> [footnote b includes:…]
> It was upon this Occasion the young Man built the said Temple to Venus Callipyga. Athen. Lib. Xii.
> Stephen
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

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