Saturday, December 14, 2013

Just Dripping With Creativity

Today I learned the subtext of the word seminal. It’s semen. Yep, just like it sounds.

Years spent around the endless praise of arts journalists may have warped my thinking, but I feel like when people use the word today, they’re most often using it in the context of creativity — a seminal book is one so original that it prompts the existence of later works. But even that use — planting a metaphorical seed — goes back to the primary definition listed in Merriam-Webster: “of, relating to or consisting of seed or semen,” as in seminal vesicles. Etymonline says that the generative sense of the word has been in use since at least the 1630s.

So remember: The next time someone refers to a book or album or film or artwork as being seminal, you’re not only allowed but encouraged to ask whether this thing is generative or just covered in semen. If someone objects, just explain, “Hey, there’s thing called etymology, you clod.”

While we’re on the subject, is there any way that Donna Summer’s seminal 1980 dance track “Hot Stuff” is also the other kind of seminal as well? If you haven’t listened to it recently, do so, give the lyrics a once-over and then ask yourself just what kind of hot stuff she’s looking for.

Suggested topic of conversation for dinner parties: “Hey, can anyone guess why the disco anthem ‘Hot Stuff’ is doubly seminal?”

Words that are surprisingly sexual, previously:

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