Trivia Teaser

'Mageiricophobia' is the intense fear of having to do WHAT?


A Common Jezebel or a Dashing Don Juan?


By Christine Lovatt

Have you ever noticed that there are far more synonyms for a loose woman than for her male counterpart? Strumpet, trollop, scrubber, baggage, hussy, minx, nymphet, flirt, doxy, moll, whore, Jezebel, harlot, tart and demimonde, and that’s only the words I can repeat here.

The men come off much more lightly, when you look at words like rake, lady-killer, Don Juan, gigolo, libertine, philanderer – there’s a certain heroic dash to these words without any of the disapproving tones that go with strumpet or trollop. Can you imagine a ‘common Don Juan’ or a ‘brazen gigolo’ for instance?

Similarly, the word spinster brings to mind a lonely, bitter and twisted old woman working away at her spinning wheel, having been overlooked by all the eligible bachelors. Spinster once applied to any woman who spun wool for a living, but as it became the custom that unmarried women did most of the spinning, the meaning gradually changed to ‘an unmarried maid’.

The word bachelor may come from the Latin baculum ‘stick’ referring to the stick used in place of a sword that the young squire in training would use to practice swordplay. Or it might be from the Latin baccalarius meaning ‘vassal farmer’, So a bachelor meant a young knight or a farmer. By 1386 it meant an unmarried man but without the unhappy connotations of the spinster. You don’t get the feeling that a spinster party would be a wild affair like bachelor parties can be.


Happy puzzling!




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A Common Jezebel or a Dashing Don Juan?

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