Monday, May 28, 2012

A Penis Where You Would Not Expect One

When you’re riding in the waybackseat and it occurs to you that English has two looms — the noun for the thing your weave on and the verb that dark clouds and scandals do — you really have no better opportunity to look up the etymology on your iPhone. Because when else would the two looms seem more pressing?

The two words have nothing to do with each other, in the end. You could have guessed that, maybe, but you know for sure when the etymology identifies the verb loom as being Scandinavian in origin and perhaps being related to the word lame. The noun loom, meanwhile, comes from Old English and would seem to be related this Old English word andloman, meaning “apparatus” or “furniture.”

But then there’s the penis.

The second sentence of the entry for the noun loom throws a curveball. I quote: “Originally ‘implement or tool of any kind’ (cf. heirloom); thus, ‘the penis’ (c.1400-1600).”

No explanation of that. Just “thus, ‘the penis.’”

See? And you thought looms were boring.

In closing, I would like to say that no discussion of looms — penile or otherwise — would ever be complete without this throwaway joke from The Simpsons.

It’s Marge demonstrating to Bart how she took loom in school, and it represents everything about Marge Simpson as a character.

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