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.
WHOEVER wishes to be saved must, above all, keep the catholic faith.
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.
As a rough indicator of that which preoccupies man's attention, have a look at:
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?"
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:
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.
– Isaac D'Israeli, Curiosities of Literature, in web quotation from Sept. 1987 Kipling Journal
Ewwww! I hadn't even wondered if there was a word for that.
The wonder is that the colour became fashionable.
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.
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:
It's a great story, though!
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'.
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.
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.
– Ayn Rand, The Fountainhead, ch. XIII
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."