New words from John Waters

“Band Who Picked Up Hitchhiking John Waters Talks About Their Six Hours With The Director”, here:

Yesterday we shared the adorable story of the indie rock band that picked up indie director John Waters as he stood hitchhiking on the side of a road in Ohio. This morning the bassist for Here We Go Magic, Jen Turner, spoke with us about their magical experience with the director of Pink Flamingos. It turns out Waters hitchhikes a lot—he’s even hitchhiked with Patty Hearst—and gets plenty of rides even when wearing a hat that says “Scum of the Earth.” Here’s Turner’s tale of her six hours in a van with John Waters.

… He taught you some new words? Yes! He did teach me some new words, which he instantly credited to all the other people he’s been hanging out with. The first one was “trendsexual.” He was saying that he thinks that it’s time to get back in the closet because there are too many out there now and it’s too cool to be gay, I guess. The other one was “blouse,” which is such a great term because it means a feminine top. You know, like the opposite of a bear.

(Hat tip to Ned Deily on Facebook.)

Both trend-sexual (or trendsexual) and blouse ‘effeminate topman’ seem to be Urban Dictionary creations. The first has the libfix -sexual (of homosexual, heterosexual, bisexual, omnisexual, etc.), and the second turns on a nice pun on top (‘upper-body garment’ vs. ‘penetrator in sexual intercourse’), with an accompanying subtler ambiguity in feminine (‘for a woman’ vs. ‘like a woman’).

On trend-sexual, here’s a bit of ” ‘True Blood’ Actress the Latest ‘Trend-sexual?’: In an Interview with Esquire True Blood’s Evan Rachel Wood Says She is a Bisexual” (here):

Wood is the latest in a series of young Hollywood actresses to come out as bisexual leading some to label them as ‘Trend-sexual,’ a phrase invented by UrbanDictionary.com to define those whose sexuality seems to shift with the cultural tide. A number of young Hollywood starlets have been accused of trend-sexuality including “Transformers” star Megan Fox who, like Wood, revealed in a 2009 interview with Esquire that she is bisexual; though she added she would never date another bisexual woman.

(The story moves on to Anna Paquin, Angelina Jolie, Drew Barrymore, and Lindsay Lohan.)

One UD entry on trendsexual:

Someone whose sexuality is whatever the trendy sexuality is. (link)

On blouse, UD has two relevant entries:

Blouse (n): a feminine top
… he was a total blouse. He was dancing like a nelly queen to Beylonce all night and wearing women’s jeans but when we got back to the hotel room, he said he was a Top. (from SummersEve2001 on Oct 18, 2011)

A really femmie gay guy who fancies himself as the top in man to man sex. (from EricInChi on Jan 9, 2005)

I haven’t found any examples in the wild. But my search did lead me to blouse ‘wimp’, which looks like a UK and Australian thing (and recent enough so that this sense isn’t in Green’s Dictionary of Slang, though Green does have blouse as a derogatory term for a woman). Most of the hits involve slurs on masculinity, as here:

[from a site on climbing in Victoria, Australia] Forgive me if I sound like a total blouse. (link)

I shed a tear at the Victoria Ground in 1986, I cried at Cardiff and still shed a tear when watching the DVD. Seeing us take on some of Europe’s big names, Lazio, Sporting and Roma, made me feel so proud.
I think I’ll be a tad emotional tomorrow.
Or am I just a total blouse?

[reply] You’re a total blouse.
Crying is for girls. (link)

I feel this guys pain. Im a total blouse when it comes to scary games and I know exactly how he feels! (link)

@rougebert it makes you look like a total blouse, mate. Just sayin’ (link)

[from an Aberdonian] I’m a total blouse and dont like horror films! Alien2 and the Ring freak me out!!! (link)

But here’s one hit from a woman (on a UK baby-led weaning site) using the word in the extended ‘wimp’ sense:

I don’t know why I am like this, I am such a confident and instinctive mother but I am afraid to give her food.   Any suggestions to break us in gently??  I feel like a total blouse writing this post!! (link)

So the sense development leads from the article of women’s clothing, by metonymy to reference to a woman, picking up a derogatory tone along the way (as words for women are wont to do), then extended to slurs on masculinity (as derogatory words for women are wont to do), and finally bleached to mere wimpiness.

10 Responses to “New words from John Waters”

  1. mollymooly Says:

    “blouse” = wimp might to be a contraction of “big girl’s blouse” (Google books cite from 1979). I was never sure whether this breaks down as “[big girl]’s blouse” or “big [girl’s blouse]”.

  2. zimpenfish Says:

    I’m pretty sure it’s “[big girl]’s blouse” – certainly “don’t be such a big girl” was (probably still is) in use in Northern England in the 1980s when I was growing up. I guess adding “blouse” is supposed to represent an even flimsier effort at something.

    • arnold zwicky Says:

      “Don’t be such a girl” is an insult applied to men all over the English-speaking world, and “big” just expands on that. So I’m suspicious of the claim that there’s something especially Northern English about “big girl”.

  3. coincident, the noun « Arnold Zwicky's Blog Says:

    […] Arnold Zwicky's Blog A blog mostly about language « New words from John Waters […]

  4. Stuar Says:

    Yeah, for this UK speaker, blouse as wimp has been around for a good long time; as noted above often appearing as part of “big girl’s blouse.” Also there is a corresponding verb to blouse [out] which usually means something along the lines of “to chicken out,” usually of a drinking session. Here’s a couple of examples from online:

    “Okay, I’ll take Craig’s place since he’s bloused out!”
    (http://www.pistonheads.com/gassing/topic.asp?h=0&t=1057922&d=11615.85883&nmt=)

    “I accepted his challenge, but when I counter challenged he bloused out.”
    (http://www.whaleoil.co.nz/2011/08/chicken/)

  5. Arne Adolfsen Says:

    I admit right off the bat that I haven’t looked into this at all, but I’d parse it as “[big girl]’s blouse” following the example of the good-humored but mocking “big boy (under)pants” in “It’s time to put on your big boy pants” and do something like an adult. Or is that unlikely? .

  6. Stuart Brown (@_stuart_brown_) Says:

    Hmm, Arne, I’m not so sure about this. I think the former is parsed as “big [girl’s blouse]”, where the “big” is an intensifier typical of this type of perjorative analogy (cf “don’t be such a big baby”), whereas in “big boy pants” the “big” necessarily qualifies “boy.” Also, the latter is very uncommon in the UK, whereas bgb is quite common. (It would appear to have largely been popularized by the 1980s sitcom Blackadder: http://www.whedon.info/Joss-Makes-the-Oxford-English.html)

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