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How did a saint's name become associated with a lady of easy virtue?

The Athanasian Creed, traditionally though mistakenly attributed to St. Athanasius of Alexandria, died 373, is one of the four authoritative Creeds of Catholicism¹. It is included in The English Book of Common Prayer (1662), and at one time was oft recited. It is sometimes called the Quicumque Vult, after its first words in Latin.
    QUICUMQUE vult salvus esse, ante omnia opus est, ut teneat catholicam fidem:
    WHOEVER wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the catholic faith.
Notice the words Quicumque vult, Whoever Wishes. Some anonymous wit punned on them, and a lady available to 'whoever wishes' was known by the name of this creed.

Athanasian wench, or quicunque vult – a forward girl, ready to oblige every man that shall ask her
– Francis Grose, Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1811), an enjoyable read

¹The others are the Apostles', Chalcedonian and Nicean Creeds.
 
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As a rough indicator of that which preoccupies man's attention, have a look at:
http://www.soileddoves.com/names.html


RJA
 
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As an attorney, I must point out that the enterprise to which Robert refers is not the oldest profession, although commonly so-called. Several years ago I had a somewhat alcohol-induced discussion upon this with two friends.

My surgeon friend claimed precedence, pointing out, "The first surgical procedure occurred as early as the second book of Genesis, when God created Eve from Adam's rib." We laughed, but the real estate developer, my client, was equally biblical and equally bibulous, responding, "Ah, but the Lord performed the first and primal real estate development a full book earlier, when He created the earth out of chaos."

I as a lawyer simply learned back, puffed my cigar, and rejoined, "And who, sirs, do you think created the chaos in the first place?"
 
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In 1867 the United States purchased part of Russia's vast territory in the northwest corner of the North American continent, and sent American soldiers to take possession of this vast wilderness, called 'Alaska'. Army regulations forbade any alcoholic beverages, and the soldiers they could not produce their own whiskey in illicit stills, which would be "too fragrant to conceal". (Ciardi; where accounts differ slightly I rely on Ciardi's, which seems the most apt.)

Fortunately, the local Hoochino Indians (Tlingit for "people of the strait of the grizzly bear"), having learned distilling from the Americans, developed both a taste and a talent for brew. By throwing into the mash whatever happened to be available they produced a "perilous rotgut" and, enterprisingly, soon "took to distributing through most of southern Alaska." This Hoochino product was called hoochino or hoochinoo, and later, during the 1890s Alaska gold rush, the name was shortened to hooch.

hooch – alcoholic liquor, especially inferior or bootleg liquor

The original hooch was a commercial success but doubly a public nuisance: there was riotous drunkenness, and some perished from drinking the impure foodstuff. I excerpt from what the New York Times, Sept. 4, 1883 took from another paper:
    The hoochinoo, so called from its first being made by the Indians of that tribe, is the great enemy of peace and order. Government orders prevent the importation of whisky, but the ever vigilant officers cannot keep watch of all the illicit stills that the Indians set up in their houses or in lonely spots in the woods. A deserter from a whaling ship once taught the Indians how to distill hoochinoo. … molasses, sugar and most anything else supply ingredients for the fiery stuff that can be distilled in a short time.

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isabelline; isabella; isabel – a dingy greyish-yellow color, as of unwashed underwear

Spain's Phillip II, he of Amada fame, had a daughter Isabella. On her 1598 marriage to Austrian Archduke Albert he provided as dowry his posessions in the Netherlands, which were in revolt.

In 1601 the Austrians laid seige to Ostend. It is said that Isabella vowed not to remove her undergaments (euphimistically called 'linens') until the besiegers prevailed. If so, it was an unwise vow, for the defenders of Ostend held out for three years. You can imagine what her undergarments looked like.
    Isabella vowed not to change her linen till Ostend was taken; this siege … lasted three years; and the supposed colour of the archduchess's linen gave rise to a fashionable colour … whitish-yellow dingy.
    – Isaac D'Israeli, Curiosities of Literature, in web quotation from Sept. 1987 Kipling Journal
I will not bore you with certain evidence contrary to this story, or with responses to that evidence. The story, true or false, is too good to leave untold.
 
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quote:
a dingy greyish-yellow color, as of unwashed underwear

Ewwww! I hadn't even wondered if there was a word for that. Roll Eyes
 
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The wonder is that the colour became fashionable. Smile


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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I like the story, but Wikipedia says the story can't possible be true, since the word existed before 1601. Indeed, the OED Online bears this out:
  • isabelline, a.
    [f. prec. + -INE.]
    Of an Isabella colour, greyish yellow.
    isabelline bear: a variety of the Syrian bear, found in the Himalaya Mountains, of a yellowish-brown colour; the Indian white bear; cf. ISABELLA 3, quot. 1835

    1859 TRISTRAM in Ibis I. 430 The upper plumage of every bird, whether Lark, Chat, Sylvian, or Sand-grouse..is of one uniform isabelline or sand colour. 1889 Cornh. Mag. Mar. 307 The smaller denizens of the desert..must be quite uniformly isabelline or sand-coloured. 1893 LYDEKKER Horns & Hoofs 198 The face is of the same isabelline tint as the body.

  • Isabella a. n.
    Greyish yellow; light buff. Like other colour names, also used as n.
    (Various stories have been put forth to account for the name. That given in D'Israeli Cur. Lit. (Article Anecdotes of Fashion), and also in Littré, associating it with the archduchess Isabella and the siege of Ostend 1601-1604, is shown by our first quotation to be chronologically impossible.)

    1600 (July) Inv. Queen's Garderobe in Nichols Progr. Q. Eliz. (1823) III. 505 Item, one rounde gowne of Isabella-colour satten,..set with silver spangles. 1622 PEACHAM Compl. Gent. (1661) 156 Isabella colour signifieth Beauty. 1689 Lond. Gaz. No. 2459/4 A new red Coat with an Izabella colour Lining. 1719 LONDON & WISE Compl. Gard. 71 Is in Shape like the Rousselet, of a very light Isabella Colour, like the Martin Sec. 1805-17 R. JAMESON Char. Min. (ed. 3) 59 From the names of persons, as Isabella-yellow, now called Cream-yellow. 1811 PINKERTON Petral. I. 329 Of a yellowish grey, verging on Isabella colour. 1870 A. L. ADAMS Nile Valley, etc. 38 The desert lark..is..of a light Isabella colour above, and white below.

    Comb., as Isabella-coloured adj.
    1681 J. CHETHAM Angler's Vade-m. iv. §31 (1689) 59 Isabella coloured mohair. 1686 tr. Chardin's Trav. 371 All the Nysain horses were Isabella coloured. 1835 Penny Cycl. IV. 89/2 Isabella-coloured Bear, Ursus Isabellinus. 1858 J. R. PLANCHÉ tr. C'tess D'Aulnoy's Fairy Tales, P'cess Belle-Etoile & Pr. Cheri 573 She mounted an Isabella-coloured horse; the black mane of which was dressed with rows of diamonds.

It's a great story, though!

Tinman
 
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Linnaeus, when he named the botanical and zoological species, typically named them after scientists or other personages of his time. Thus a genus of greenhouse shrubs, called Hermannia, is named after botanist Paul Hermann (1646-95).

Linneaus must have been in quite the mood when he named a closely related genus Mahernia, a near-anagram of Hermannia. Are there any other anagramatic eponyms?

He named another genus Quisqualis (Latin: 'what for') because he was unsure how to classify it. He apparently could not decide who to name it for, making it an 'anti-eponym'.
 
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Anagrams of plant genera:
Mitella (miterwort) - Tellima (fringecup)
Sedirea - Aerides
Allium (0nion) - Muilla
Legenere - E. L. Greene (botanist)

More anagrams of biological nomenclature and other interesting stuff.

Tinman
 
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A personal favorite here.

phryne - a spectacular legal stunt.

No dictionary lists this word, and while one print-source says it means "a courtesan", I find no usage examples. However, a well-known work uses it with the useful sense above.
    Ellsworth Toohey wrote in his column: "Mr. Roark pulled a Phryne in court and didn't get away with it."
    – Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead, ch. XIII
The story: Phryne was one of the most prominent courtesans of ancient Greece. She grew rich in her trade and seems to have had a genius for publicity: she "used to promise that she would build a wall about Thebes if the Thebans would write an inscription upon it, that 'Whereas Alexander demolished it, Phryne the courtesan restored it.'" (The offer was not accepted.)

Another publicity stunt, the one that concerns us here, is much like one of Janet Jackson's 'wardrobe malfunction'. "It was the day of the Eleusinian festivals; twenty thousand people had come from all the countries of Greece and were assembled on the beach when Phryne advanced towards the waves: she took off her robe, she undid her girdle, she even removed her undergarment, "she unrolled all her hair and she stepped into the sea."

Well, this was serious! Profaning the Eleusinian mysteries was a capital offense considered more serious than murder. Phryne was brought up on charges; and "it became apparent that the judges meant to condemn her." Her desperate advocate then saved his case with a spectacular coup. "Tearing off her undervests he laid bare her bosom and broke into such piteous lamentation … that he caused the judges to feel superstitious fear of this handmaid and ministrant of Aphrodite, and indulging their feeling of compassion, they refrained from putting her to death." [Sources: web-translations of classical authors. Accounts differ in details, but all agree that bared breasts saved the lady.]

By the way, "after she had been acquitted a decree was passed that no person speaking in a defendant's behalf should indulge in lamentation, nor should the accused man or woman on trial be bared for all to see."
 
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