Elizabeth Daingerfield Zwicky ranted in Facebook a while back, when Mothers Day loomed:

As a breeder, let me go on record as saying get over it already and stop turning my ability to produce loin fruit [she meant to type “loinfruit”] into an excuse to plaster the world with commercialized guilt and stereotyping.

First, there’s breeder, which has two salient senses here (both applicable to Elizabeth): ‘a heterosexual’ and ‘someone who has had a child’. But her posting was noticed mainly for its use of loinfruit ‘child, children’, which was new for some readers and struck them as inventive and entertaining.

Elizabeth was in fact using an expression she had learned some years ago on the Usenet newsgroup soc.motss. She and I picked it up from Gwendolyn Alden Dean, who referred to her son as “the loinfruit”. So I asked about the expression on the Facebook descendant of the newsgroup and got the local history of the expression.

Loinfruit is found in other precincts as well. There’s an Urban Dictionary entry by V_MAX 6/14/10 for it as

Children, offspring, “fruit of your loins”

(There’s also a jokey entry by Jaytex 3/11/03 for it as “a particularly attractive or tasty set of genitals”.)

A blog posting of 26 March 2007 complains about children not behaving in public under the heading

When Loinfruit Blossom in Public

And we have CafePress offering various products with loinfruit on them – in particular, cutesy toddler t-shirts inscribed

mommy’s li’l loinfruit
daddy’s li’l loinfruit
our li’l loinfruit

(This is just a sampling of occurrences.)

The basis for the compound is in the Cambridge Idioms Dictionary (2nd ed., 2006)

the fruit of your loins  (humorous)
your children The fruit of my loins you may be, but that doesn’t mean I have to look after you all my life!

And the source of that expression is the Bible. Acts 2:30 in the KJV, referring to David:

Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;

[First linguistic observation: The development from fruit(s) of s.o.’s loins to loinfruit is a natural one, grounded in the widespread alternation between a syntactic combination

N + PP complement (call this N N1), where PP = P + NP (call the head of this NP N2)

and a morphological combination, the compound

N2 + N1

as in initiative for peace ~ peace initiative, chalice of silver ~ silver chalice, train to/from Rome ~ Rome train, shot of whiskey ~ whiskey shot, abduction of a child ~ child abduction, pain in s.o.‘s foot ~ foot pain, etc. (There are many subtypes.)

So that fruit(s) of s.o.‘s loins ‘child, children’ ~ loinfruit is pretty much inevitable.]

[Second linguistic observation: An Npl like fruits is not always understood as denoting a multiplicity (though it can be): results, consequences, and some other Npl can have a “mass” understanding — as for fruits of my loins, which can be understood parallel to fruits of my labors ‘result, issue of my labors’, and so can refer to a single child.

(In the other direction, fruit of my loins can be understood as having the M noun fruit, as in bowl of fruit, which means that it can be understood as referring to a collection of children.)

Behind some of these complexities is the dual character of the noun fruit — as a M noun, in bowl of fruit and fruit for dessert, which implicate (but do not entail) more than one kind of fruit, and as a C noun, in bowl of fruits and fruits for dessert, which entail more than one kind.]

[Third linguistic observation: On the meaning (and history) of loin(s). From OED2:

Etymology:  < Old French loigne, logne, dialectal variant of longe (modern French longe loin of veal) = Spanish lonja piece of ham < medieval Latin *lumbea, feminine of *lumbeus adj., belonging to the loin, < Latin lumbus loin < West Aryan *londhwo-

1. a. In the living body. Chiefly pl. The part or parts of a human being or quadruped, situated on both sides of the vertebral column, between the false ribs and the hip-bone.
[from 1398]

b. In an animal used for food; chiefly, the joint of meat which includes the vertebræ of the loins
[from c1340]

2. Chiefly Biblical and poet. This part of the body, regarded:

a. as the part of the body that should be covered by clothing and about which the clothes are bound; so, to gird (up) the loins (lit. and fig.), to prepare for strenuous exertion.
[from 1526]

b. as the seat of physical strength and of generative power. †Hence occas. used as an equivalent for ‘sire’, ‘offspring’, ‘descendants’. Also fig.
[from 1535]

c1616    R. C. Times’ Whistle (1871) iv. 1542   Impious villaine! to defame the fruit Of thine owne loynes.

Detail from the Wikipedia entry:

The loins are the sides between the lower ribs and pelvis, and the lower part of the back. It is often used when describing the anatomy of humans and quadrupeds (such as horses, pigs or cattle). The anatomical reference also carries over into the description of cuts of meat from some such animals, eg. tenderloin or sirloin steak.

In human anatomy the term “loin” or “loins” refers to the side of the human body below the rib cage to just above the pelvis. It is frequently used to reference the general area below the ribs.

The term also has become euphemistic for human genitals due to their prominence in that anatomical region. Because of this euphemistic use of the term, the article of clothing that is worn around the genital area has been named a loincloth.

In the Authorized King James Version of the Christian Bible the term “loins” is used frequently. It is suggested that the “loins” is the minimum one must cover on their body to be respectful of the law. This suggests that if a man (or, possibly, a woman as well) covers up just their genital area, they are considered clothed enough for public life. Frequently the expression “fruit of his loins” is used to refer to children. Such a “fruit of my loins” reference is also made in the King James Version.

It is also used as a term for the general lower area of the body much like the term “below the belt” references the area below where the average person would wear a belt.

The term “gird one’s loins” was used in the Roman Era meaning to pull up and tie one’s lower garments between one’s legs to increase one’s mobility in battle. In the modern age, it has become an idiom meaning to prepare oneself for the worst.

So much for the linguistics. Now back to soc.motss.]

Gwendolyn Dean was pretty sure she hadn’t coined it, but had adopted it from someone else, and that she had previously used spawn. Then several respondents searched through Google Groups; Michael Palmer laid out the fullest history:

(1) first appearance of term, in a long list, without explanation of meaning, in soc.bi, thread “Names that go ‘both ways'”, post by Queen of Spades, April 10, 1993.

(2) second appearance of term, with meaning “child”, in rec.arts.tv.soaps.misc., thread “DOOL: What goes around …”, post dated July 1, 1995.

(3) first soc.motss appearance, in thread “The end of all that”, post by Nick Fitch, July 7, 1996; in a post of July 9, 1996, Nick attributes the term to Season Taylor; which Season confirms in a post of July 19, 1996.

(4) Our Gwendolyn’s first use of the term appears to date from August 21, 1996 (thread “The fun of Double Entendre”).

The Nick Fitch posting is entertaining:

And you said yourself the zoo was too expensive, and anyway if you thought Pride was too hot and crowded you’ve never seen San Diego zoo at the weekend, never mind on July 4th, and it’s full of screaming loinfruit and Season would probably have ended up killing one

(At the time, Season said she wasn’t fond of loinfruit. Now she’s responsible for some. Life goes on.)

[Michael went on to look for earlier occurrences, noting:

Earliest reference in LexisNexis: “Go Knots–it’s the only sudser left,” Toronto Star, Sunday, April 28, 1991, p. E23: “…leaving poor pout-pussed Paige to be hustled and reviled by the boring new guy who is not only Greg’s nephew but his half-brother: bastard loin-fruit of Greg’s goiterous half-sister Claudia and Greg’s scabrous late father …” Oddly, I can’t find “loinfruit” in any of the full-text electronic editions of VARIETY: I can’t believe a publication with such a generous view of the English language wouldn’t have picked it up early.

Google Scholar also says “loin fruit” appears once in Tom Burdett’s SMALL COMFORTS: MORE COMMENTS AND COMIC PIECES (copyright 1987), but it’s not on any of the pages available for public viewing.

Season herself said that she and her friend Brad had been using it since 1992 and was surprised that she hadn’t used it in a posting before 1996.]

As I said in the first linguistic observation above, the leap to loinfruit was pretty much inevitable. Who knows who first made that leap, and, really, who cares? No doubt loinfruit was coined many times by many people. We can look at when it gained some traction (which seems to be relatively recently), but we can’t pin down when it started, nor credit particular people for the invention.

We can trace the adoption and spread of the usage in a particular community, which is what I’ve reported on above (for the on-line soc.motss community). In that community, Season Taylor was the trigger and Gwendolyn Dean a major agent of spread, with the precipitating events taking place in 1996.

5 Responses to “Loinfruit”

  1. Roger Phillips Says:

    Although the intended meaning is clear, I can’t shake the simultaneous image of the bunch of grapes Genet’s Stilitano kept in his pants.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      (That would be in The Thief’s Journal, which I don’t seem to have in my library, and I don’t remember Stilitano’s grapes.)

      A bunch of grapes is more inventive than the classic banana, but probably messier. Ah, but now I see that the grapes were thin cellulose grapes stuffed with cotton wool, safety-pinned inside his trousers.

  2. Roger Phillips Says:

    They weren’t real ones:
    “Inside his pants was pinned one of those imitation bunches of thin cellulose grapes stuffed with cotton-wool. (They are as big as greengage plums, and the elegant women of that time and in that country wore them on their loose-brimmed, straw sun-bonnets.) Whenever some queer at the Criolla, excited by the swelling, put his hand on Stilitano’s basket, his horrified fingers would encounter this object, which he feared might be actual balls.”

    • Roger Phillips Says:

      Oops. I didn’t realise the email notification only gave me the beginning of your reply and that you’d already divined the grapes’ true nature.

  3. Ann Burlingham Says:

    I am glad to see the full quote. Dear me, delightful.

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