The New Republic, “What We Mean When We Say ‘Bids Wanted in Competition'”

February 26, 2013

Noreen Malone, “What We Mean When We Say ‘Bids Wanted in Competition'” (The New Republic, Feb. 26, 2013)

The habit of appropriating the language of work for the bedroom is an old one. The word “intercourse” itself came out of the business world, as did “partner” and “affair.” In fact, “the business” has been a euphemism for sex since the seventeenth century, points out Ben Zimmer, Boston Globe language columnist. But more recently (with some exceptions, like “he’s a closer”), we have favored slang that hints at a more leisure-driven kind of conquest—“rounding the bases,” for instance, or “rocking someone’s world.” “That may say something about society’s shifting views toward sex, which now tends to get euphemized by appropriating the language of more pleasurable pursuits,” explains Zimmer.

Read the rest here.

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