Shakespears Bawdy

This weeks definitions, quotes and references.

Abhorson. A composite name, meaning 'son from (L. ab) a whore'. In C. 17-18, son of a whore was an abusive form of address comparable with the C. 19-20 son of a bitch. Abhorson is a minor character, the executioner, in a Measure for Measure. Cf. whoreson, q.v.

bachelor (and his children). 'Thou art a widow, and thou hast some children; And, by God's mother, I, being but a bachelor, Have other some', King Edward to Lady Grey, 3 Henry VI, III ii 102-104 Cf. the first quotation at beget.

calf. Leontes (jealous of Polixeness) says to his son, Mamillus, 'How now, you wanton [=playful] calf! Art thou my calf?', The Winter's Tale, I ii 126-127: i.e., 'Art thou offspring to me, the bull, from my wife?' Cf. cow, q.v.

dale. Venus, inciting (and trying to excite) Adonis to roam in that park which is her fair body, says, 'Feed where thou wilt, on mountain or in dale' (v. 232)--on the eminences or in the valleys: the valley between her breasts; the vulva-valley; and perhaps the rearward ravine.

eagerness. Sharp-set amorousness. 'Madding my eagerness with her restraint', All's Well, v iii 212 Via Fr. aigre, ex L. acer, 'sharp', hence 'zealous, ardent'.

fading. 'The burden of a song': ostensibly, the commentators may be right; but I find it hard to believe that 'burdens of "dildoes" and "fadings"' (The W. Tale, IV iii 195: see full quotation at dildo) means 'burdens of dildoes and burdens (or refrains)': Shakespeare was not wont to be thus ineptly tautological, and the pairing of fading with dildo is suggestive, especially in conjunction with the next pairing of erotic terms. I propose that fading = fading-away, an orgasm-'death (see die), normally accomplished by an amorous sighing and a steamy breathe: to fade is cognate with L. vapor, 'steam, exhalation'. Or it may, as Webster implies, be connected with fading, 'an Irish dance' (cf. dance).