Baxter's Blog

FUN WITH WORDS

Posted in Helpfull Stuff by misterroadtripper on June 27, 2010

CLEANING UP OUR LANGUAGE

In the tattoo world, there are a bushel basket of words that we use everyday, but where did they come from? Or, more properly, “from where did they come?” (which, I believe is more correct). In any case, here’s a few that you and I utter all the time. Hey, now we’ll all be super-erudite… and know from whence we speak.

—Bob Baxter

G-string: First used to describe an Indian’s loincloth (breechclout) in the 19th century, it could be that some fiddler in the West compared the heaviest of violin strings, the G string, to the length of sinew or gut that Indians tied around their waists to hold up their breechclouts. Or perhaps it was simply an euphemism for “groin,” an indecent word at the time.

Coney Island: The site of the annual Mermaid Parade, Coney should really be pronounced to rhyme to with honey or money, the adult long-eared rabbit (Lepus cunicula) after which the Brooklyn, New York community was named. Well, it became rather embarrassing, especially in local churches, so it got pronounced Cō-ney, so as not to upset the more fragile members of the population. By the way, type in Coney Island in the Search Bar to see Maury Englander’s fabulous photos of the yearly Mermaid Parade.

Crapper: Named after Thomas Crapper, an Englishman who developed and manufactured the modern toilet bowl. So, next time you use his wonderful invention, be sure to give this important gentleman a respectful tip of the lid.

Tattoo: It is believed that Capt. James Cook was the first European to record the practice of tattooing, when he sailed the Endeavor on his historic exploration of the South Seas in 1769. He noted that the Tahitians cut their skin and injected black dye that left a permanent mark. He called the practice tattowing in his diary, an approximation of the native word tatau, isn’t that right, Marshall Bruce Mathers III?

Pork Chop: Used by tattoo artists to describe the small, easy-to-apply tattoos that walk-in customers usually get and which help pay for the artists’ tasty necessities of life, like beer, eggs and, yes, pork chops.

P.S. Do you have some favorite tattoo-related etymologies that you’d like to share with us? Email us the best ones and we’ll publish them for all to see. Let’s show people that tattoos lovers possess both good taste and brains! And, while you’re at it, include some photos of your tattoos.


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