Thursday, December 29, 2011


The asterisk is there for the benefit of followers who have me on their blog rolls but maintain PG sites.

Don't recall why, but yesterday I looked up the etymology of "tits" and discovered that its modern usage, referring to breasts, has only been around since 1928, even though Old English had the word "titt," a variant of "teat." The modern usage as a somewhat naughty or derogatory term for a woman's breast "seems to be a recent reinvention from teat, used without awareness that it is a throwback to the original form," according to the Online Etymology Dictionary.

But the question for me is, what word served this purpose before 1928? When men stood around the campfire during the Civil War or in the trenches in World War I and reminisced about the great set of -- what? -- on a girl back home, what word did they use? At Valley Forge, when they commented on the buxom lass with "a face that could stop a clock but ---s to die for," what word was being articulated?

Just out of further curiosity, I tried to come up with some made-up synonym, settled on "gazumpa," and ran it through Google images. Sure enough, there were pictures of God's best invention, which just goes to prove, I suppose, that if you stumble on any made-up word with enough vowels and cheek, someone somewhere has likely used it to refer to a woman's...ta-tas.  Maybe even around a Civil War campfire.


  1. There are PG sites? I would take a different take on God's best invention. I think that around that campfire they probably just called them boobs. I don't know. I'd have to ask my dad. He knows everything and he's almost that old. I'll get back with you....

  2. Now see, I'm a bit sad because I thought I was about to get a lesson in what they said at Valley Forge.

  3. Look forward to hearing it, Yvonne.
    Dolly -- I had an ancestor at Valley Forge, but he was an officer, so he was snuggled in a warm house, not huddling around a campfire.

  4. Wow! I SO want to add to this but how. The topic is so bodacious. Bulbous thoughts jiggle in my mind.

    Maybe they called them mammaries.

    "What a great set of mammaries," he said as he cleaned his bayonet.

  5. A dictionary of slang and colloquial English says the word bubbies, referring to breasts, goes back to 1686.

  6. Bubbies -- I like that. Precursor of boobies, one supposes?

    "Gander on the bubbies on yon lass."
    "Aye, 'sooth, 'twould be heaven, than her visage not enough to turn back the clock..."

  7. I think you need to do some more research and find out what word they DID use before 1928! Are you writing about that period, by the way? Or did you just have t*ts on your mind all the time?

  8. I do pretty much have the female breast on the mind at any given time, though that's got nothing to do with my random interest in the etymology of "tits."