Go for the nuts!

From Ned Deily on Facebook, a photo of the Sneaky, Snacky Squirrel Game for small children, which invited jokey comments playing on nuts ‘testicles’. And from there to other expressions for the testicles: play ball!

The Squirrel Game, by Educational Insights:


Grab those nuts! And squeeze them. From the makers:

Your forest friends are hungry in The Sneaky Snacky Squirrel Game and they need your help! Spin the spinner, squeeze the matching colored acorn with your Squirrel Squeezers, and place it into your log. Be the first to fill your log with delicious acorns and you win! You could also spin pick an acorn, steal an acorn, or lose an acorn, so be strategic, little squirrel! The Set Includes: one set of Squirrel Squeezers, 20 colored acorns, four logs, one game spinner, and game board which doubles as packaging! Develops matching, sorting, strategic thinking, hand eye coordination, fine motor skills, and pre handwriting skill. Grades Pre-K and up.

There are more squirrel-and-nut games. For instance, the Defend Your Nuts action game, described here as follows:

Everyone knows that squirrels are super cool… until you mess with their nuts. Take heed, scary bees and skeletons! This squirrel IS NOT joking around. Stop being so squirrelly and get to defending! [a tower defense game, for all ages, launched 9/23/11]

There’s a successor, Defend Your Nuts 2:

You want my nuts? Just try and get them! Mr. Squirrel is no stranger to nut danger, and he is ready to pop any creeps who make a move for his nuts. Fierce mice join your battle as you upgrade your weapons and nut defenses. Unfortunately, the creeps get faster and badder, too. Lock and Load, Little Nutjobs! [a tower defense game, for all ages, launched 12/21/12]

Then there’s a card game Nuts (aka 2-handed solitaire or team solitaire), played with an ordinary deck of cards (described here) and surely getting its name from a secondary use of nuts, presumably the exclamation.

And still another card game, Nuts!, which is played with a special deck and incorporates the squirrel/acorn image:


Digression. Googling on nuts and game together pulls up a number of sites about playing with your balls and still others offering advice on how to play with a guy’s balls. Apparently, Google counts nuts and balls as equivalents.

Well, as slang synonyms for testicles, they pretty much are, though in secondary uses they diverge. More on this below.

Slang for testicles. People are tremendously inventive in coining expressions for the testicles (as for the penis, the breasts, etc.), but the collection of testicular slang expressions that are widely known and used isn’t very large. For modern English, nuts and balls — both metaphorical — lead the pack; they are, in effect, “standard slang”, the everyday words for this purpose. But other words referring to spherical or ovoid objects of roughly the right size will serve as the basis for a metaphor, and stones and rocks are reasonably common in this use (and also in extended uses, as in have stoneshave the stones (to) VP, parallel to have balls, have the balls (to) VP ‘have courage, guts’; and in get one’s rocks off ‘ejaculate’).

Another apparent metaphor is found in the specifically British slang goolies, which the Oxford Dictionaries site dates to the 1930s and takes to be of Indian origin, citing Hindi golī ‘bullet’.

Still another English metaphor has largely fallen out of use; see my discussion in a 6/25/15 posting:

Checking out Green’s Dictionary of Slang, we discover that nutmegs is a venerable slang term for the testicles (attested first in Broadside Ballads of 1684-9), indeed that it predates nuts in this sense. Though nutmegs in this sense has almost entirely passed out of general use, in favor of nuts or balls (or the more refined testicles), it seems to have been preserved on the football pitch (and then in other athletic arenas) in Britain (and then elsewhere). (Somewhat surprisingly, eggs in this sense has never really caught on in English, nor has oeufs in French; compare huevos in Spanish.)

Digression on French and Spanish. The “standard slang” expressions in these languages — like nuts and balls, vernacular but not especially vulgar — are both traceable back to Latin cōleus ‘bag, sac, sack, pouch’: French couilles, Spanish cojones as alternatives to more anatomical testicules, testiculos. The sense development is figurative, but metonymical rather than metaphorical, turning on contiguity (of the scrotum to the testicles) rather than similarity.

Note: cojones has been borrowed into American English slang.

Back to English. One more metaphor, the euphemistic family jewels. And a specialization of an anatomical term for ordinary-language purposes:

gonads  an organ that produces gametes; a testis or ovary. ORIGIN late 19th cent.: from modern Latin gonades, plural of gonas, from Greek gonē ‘generation, seed.’ (NOAD2)

What’s remarkable here is that gonads is now taken to be vulgar slang, perhaps less so in its American clipped version nads.

Two more alternatives that are chiefly or entirely British: bollocks / ballocks (mid-18th century variants of balls, especially favored in various secondary uses of balls) and the rhyming slang cobblers (from the shoemaking expression cobbler’s awls, impressed into service to convey balls).

Bonus. Searching on synonyms for testicles also leads us to testicles as food, where euphemisms are the order of the day. From Wikipedia:

The testicles of calves, lambs, roosters, turkeys, and other animals are eaten in many parts of the world, under a wide variety of euphemistic culinary names. Testicles are a by-product of the castration of young animals raised for meat, so they were probably a late-spring seasonal specialty, though nowadays they are generally frozen and available year-round.

Testicles are cooked in a variety of ways: sautéed and sauced, fricasseed, deep-fried with breading or batter, in pies, poached, roasted, and so on. Before cooking, they are generally scalded, skinned, and soaked in cold water.

Testicles are known by a wide variety of euphemisms, including ‘stones’, ‘mountain oysters’, ‘prairie oysters’, and so on. Lamb testicles in particular are often called ‘lamb fries’ or simply fries (though that may also refer to other organ meats).

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