sporting huge ironic wood

A recent Multiverse cartoon:

Not just the idiomatic sport wood, not just the idiom with a meta-modifier (huge ironic) added to the head noun wood, but also the figurative use of the idiom to mean not ‘display an erection’ but ‘become extremely excited’, not in a sexual sense.

(On morning wood, see my January piece here.)

Sport wood combines two specialized uses, of sport and of wood. OED3 (Sept. 2008) has this sense of sport:

To display or exhibit publicly, esp. in an ostentatious way

(with cites in idiomatic phrases, but not sport wood or other sportings of erections). And OED2 (draft additions 2006) has this use of wood:

slang (orig. Brit.). The penis; (now usually) an erection (chiefly in to get wood ).

(with cites starting in 1985). Green’s Dictionary of Slang has wood ‘erection’ from 1593, but then things pick up in phrasal cites from 1990-2000:

buff the wood ‘masturbate’

catch wood ‘get an erection’ thus figuratively ‘to become extremely excited’ (Pelecanos quote 1993: “the two-tone model that made Spics catch wood”)

get wood, have (good wood) ‘achieve an erection’

give wood ‘render erect’

morning wood

pull one’s wood

put the wood to

sport one’s wood ‘display an erection’ – cf. sport a woodie

Then add to this meta-modifiers, as with proverbial in cook someone’s proverbial goose, and you get sporting huge ironic wood ‘(ironically) be hugely excited  / enthusiastic about’. Piece of cartoonish cake.

8 Responses to “sporting huge ironic wood”

  1. Terry Collmann Says:

    I’m surprised it’s “(orig. Brit.)”, because “wood” for penis/erection has completely dropped out of any dialect of BrE that I know.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      Wood ‘penis, erection’ ( get wood) is certainly used in the U.S. now, and it might have dropped out of use in the U.K.; after all, slang spreads and also falls out of favor. The OED first cite is 1985, in Slanguage of Sex by Brigid McConville and John Shearlaw (both British), which said “first used by male blacks in the UK (from the 50s onwards)”. It’s not clear whether the word has any currency in that community now. (The OED does have a 1996 cite from the Guardian, and a 2003 cite from British comedian Richard Herring in his Talking Cock.)

  2. nick Says:

    This kind of phrase had a specific meaning at Oxford and Cambridge in the early-mid-20th century. College rooms used to (and some still do) have a single doorway with two doors one behind the other (in some cases only a few inches, in others a few feet, to make a little hallway – the outer one opened outwards, the inner one inwards). These used to be employed as a code: if the outer door was open the room’s occupant was happy to receive visitors, if it was closed he was hard at work, or some other activity. The slang for keeping the door closed was to ‘sport oak/timber’ (which is the OED’s sense 14a). I have often wondered whether there was a deliberate connection with the more bawdy sense of such terms, given some of the reasons why one might desire privacy…

  3. John Baker Says:

    What’s ironic about the green wizard’s wood?

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      I think we’re dealing here with one of the many extended senses of ironic that are going the rounds: ‘(oddly) coincidental’, ‘surprising’, etc.

      • John Baker Says:

        But I don’t even see how those extended senses of “ironic” make sense in this comic, unless “ironic” has been extended all the way to “metaphorical.” However, that may just mean that I don’t fully understand the comic.

      • arnold zwicky Says:

        Help, Jon Rosenberg?

  4. Morning erections « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] then in December of that year, looking at a Multiverse cartoon with sporting huge ironic […]

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