Strumpets Eating Scrumptious Crumpets

This is all rather obvious, one supposes, and etymologically probably not very interesting, but it
is gorgeously euphonious.  Sometimes one just loves to hear words.
The most interesting thing here is the reference to Captain Gorse’s ‘Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue’ – ’nuff said – I must look this up.
What is also interesting are the number of words invented through the ages to describe the sexually promiscuous woman – in this case both ‘strumpet’ – from either Latin or Dutch (ah, the Dutch) as well as crumpet, which didn’t take on that particular meaning until the 1930s, between the wars, when one supposes crumpets were very much in demand.
Off to read Captain Gorse’s dictionary…
strumpet (n.) Look up strumpet at Dictionary.comearly 14c., of uncertain origin. One theory connects it with Latin stuprata, fem. pp. of stuprare “have illicit sexual relations with,” or Late Latin strupum “dishonor, violation.” Others suggest Middle Dutch strompe “a stocking,” or strompen “to stride, to stalk” (as a prostitute might a customer). The major sources don’t seem to give much preference to any of these. Weekley notes “Gregory’s Chronicle (c.1450) has streppett in same sense.” In 18c.-early 19c., often abbreviated as strum and also used as a verb, which led to some odd dictionary entries:

TO STRUM: to have carnal knowledge of a woman, also to play badly on the harpsichord or any other stringed instrument. [Capt. Francis Grose, “A Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue,” 1796]

scrumptious – 1836, probably a colloquial alteration of sumptuous (q.v.). Originally “stylish, splendid;” sense of “delicious” is from 1881.
crumpet (n.) Look up crumpet at Dictionary.com1690s, perhaps from crompid cake “wafer,” literally “curled-up cake” (1382; Wyclif’s rendering of Hebrew raqiq in Ex. 29:23), from crompid, pp. of crumpen “curl up.” Alternative etymology is from Celtic (cf. Breton krampoez “thin, flat cake”). Slang meaning “woman regarded as a sex object” is first recorded 1936.
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About hickson1

Art historian, professor, Italian Renaissance and Baroque specialist
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2 Responses to Strumpets Eating Scrumptious Crumpets

  1. Strumpet-crumpet: your blog really does make me see these words differently. You have a sense that Shakey would say strumpet but you would have to wait for John Mills to ask for a bit of crumpet, but it is nice to have your crumpet served to you on a plate, as it were.

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