Archive for the ‘Metonymy’ Category

In the realm of the footstools

December 1, 2022

ūüźá¬†ūüźá¬†ūüźá¬†the rabbits of December take us to the hidden spot in the tropical jungle where ottomans rule among the palm trees, as depicted in this¬†John McPherson¬†Close to Home¬†cartoon of 2/14/15:


(#1) A pun on Ottoman Empire, the Turkish realm, and ottoman, a kind of footstool

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The news for wieners

September 26, 2022

(Phallic preoccupations abound in this posting, sometimes in street language — I mean, look at the title above — ¬†so some readers may want to skip over it)

Passed on by a friend on Facebook yesterday, this German grocery-store snapshot plus a joking double-entendre intro in English (together making what appears to be a a fast-spreading meme):


(#1) H√§hnchenschnitten Wiener Art ‘Viennese-style chicken cutlets’ from the (German) Vossko company, the name of the product including the German phrase Wiener Art ‘Viennese-style’ — that is, prepared like Wiener Schnitzel /¬†Wienerschnitzel); meanwhile, the English-language intro alludes to wiener art, in the sense ‘penis art’, referring to artworks in which penises are significant elements (or, in an hugely extended sense, to any artworks in which human penises are visible) — the label wiener art involving the (mildly racy) AmE sexual slang term wiener ‘penis’

German Wiener Art¬†‘Viennese-style’ (a) leads to English Wiener art ‘Viennese art’ (b) and then to four AmE slang uses of wiener art: (c) ‘sausage / frankfurter art’; (d) ‘dachshund art’; (e) ‘penis art’; (f) ‘weenie art’. All will be illustrated below.

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Three peanuts meet in a bar

August 18, 2022

Today’s Wayno / Piraro Bizarro, requiring a boatload of popcultural knowledge to understand:


(#1) The easy part: these are three anthropomorphic peanuts, M, M, F from left to right, and they are sitting at a bar, with drinks in front of them¬†(If you‚Äôre puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon ‚ÄĒ Dan Piraro says there are 3 in this strip ‚ÄĒ see this Page.)

Somehow the meeting of these three exemplifies the N1 + N2 compound N wingnut / wing-nut / wing nut (which has 4 senses in NOAD, plus a bunch more you can imagine). But how?

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Stilettoed on the balcony

August 3, 2022

The killing of Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri by a targeted U.S. drone strike (taking him down as he stood on a balcony) over the weekend in Afghanistan was described by an MSNBC commentator yesterday morning as

a stiletto strike: ¬†with the N1 + N2 compound N stiletto strike ‘sudden (military) attack resembling a stiletto (in being very narrowly focused lethal weaponry)’; the sense of the N2¬†strike here is NOAD‘s 2¬†[a]¬†a sudden attack, typically a military one

Possibly it was¬†stiletto airstrike; it went by very fast, I haven’t seen another broadcast of it, and it’s not yet available on-line, so I can’t check — but I am sure of the N¬†stiletto and the N¬†strike and the intent of the commentator to commend the pinpoint accuracy of the operation.

It seems that the metaphor has been used occasionally in military circles for some years, but very rarely outside these circles, so that it came with the vividness of a fresh, rather than conventional, metaphor — but while it worked well for me (evoking the slim, pointed, lethal daggers of assassins), it might not have been so effective with others, whose mental image of a stiletto is the heel of a fashionable women’s shoe (slim and pointed, ¬†but alluring rather than lethal).

Yes, the two senses (plus a few others that I won’t discuss here) are historically related, with the dagger sense the older and, in a series of steps, the source of the shoe sense. But of course ordinary speakers don’t know that, nor should they be expected to (such information is the province of specialists, historical linguists and lexicographers); what they know is how stiletto is used in their social world, and that’s likely to involve trendy footwear rather than medieval weaponry.

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Take it from the man on the can

July 17, 2022

Another adventure in dubious commercial names and slogans. In the past few days the hyperkinetic tv pitchman Phil Swift — the id of the Flex Seal company, the Billy Mays of liquid rubber — has been assaulting my senses with a slogan that annoys me every time — just the way it was supposed to — because I get the sleazy sense of the commercial’s slogan

Take it from the man on the can

(‘from the guy sitting on the toilet (doing his business)’) instead of the innocent sense ‘from the man whose picture is on the label of the can (of Flex Seal)’. (In passing, I note the mini-festival of metonymy here: the man isn’t on the can, his picture is; well, not on the can itself, but on the label affixed to the can.) Let me start with a photo of an exemplary Flex Seal can:


(#1) You will note the absence, on the label, of a face of any person whatsoever, much less Phil Swift; as far as I can tell, the labels are all like that, and that’s no accident: Swift’s face is entirely beside the point — you’ll see that plenty in the commercials — because the ad’s all about taking your thoughts, memorably, into (or onto) the toilet

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Prone, splayed, and humped up

June 13, 2022

(Warning: this posting starts out being about food, but quickly shifts into man-on-man sex, in very plain anatomical and interactional language, so it’s not suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

The morning name from 6/7: spatchcock. From NOAD on spatchcock:

noun: a chicken or game bird split open and grilled. verb [with object] [a] split open (a poultry or game bird) to prepare it for grilling: these small spring chickens can be bought already spatchcocked. [b] informal, mainly British add (a phrase, sentence, clause, etc.) in a context where it is inappropriate: a new clause has been spatchcocked into the Bill. ORIGIN late 18th century (originally an Irish usage). [but in any case, the cock in question refers to poultry and not to penises]

Illustrated on the¬†Fifteen Spatulas site, in “Spatchcock Chicken” by Joanne Ozug on 12/7/18:


(#1) [from the site:]¬†Spatchcock Chicken roasts in half the time of a whole trussed chicken, and also cooks more evenly. … Once you spatchcock, you don‚Äôt go back to roasting whole chickens.

I had two visceral responses to the photo: one, as an umami-loving carnivore, my mouth watered in pleasurable anticipation of consuming that spatchcocked chicken; and two, as a hookup-loving pedicant, my sexual parts all tingled in pleasurable recollection of past encounters in which I was that spatchcocked chicken. On my belly, legs apart, buttocks in the air. Or, more briskly: prone, splayed, humped up. (You have to make some allowances for the anatomical differences between your typical roasted chicken and me in heat, so that drumsticks ‚Čą buttocks.)

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The Merry Homomonth of May

May 3, 2022

(Men’s genitals, man-on-man sex, lots of street talk about them, entirely unsuitable for kids and the sexually modest.)

The Merry Homomonth of May on my two male calendars for 2022: the Tom of Finland calendar (which is mostly free of naughty bits) in my living room, where visitors (I do have an occasional one) can see it; the Cocky Boys / CockyBoys / Cockyboys calendar (which is all about the naughty bits) stashed away in my bedroom, where it can be viewed from my bed and so can provide me with an inspirational penis boost as called for by the exigencies of the moment.

So, in order: the ToF, which turns out to be primarily (though not exclusively) about gay men’s nipples, or tits, as we usually call them (metonymically); and then three months of CockyBoy cocks (April through June).

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Half-assing things

March 20, 2022

(It’s all about some English expressions using the bodypart-term ass, but without any reference to human buttocks. The verb¬†fuck (up), figuratively¬†‘mishandle, damage, ruin’, puts in a cameo appearance at the beginning. But: no actual bodyparts, no sexual acts, presented either verbally or visually.)

Advertised in my Facebook feed yesterday, this t-shirt, available from many sources (this via Amazon, in five colors):


The verb half-ass, here ‘do (something) incompletely or incompetently’ — as opposed to totally messing it up

We start with the racy slang verb half-ass and work back from there.

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The self-rising mascot

March 13, 2022

(Considerable discussion of sexual practices in this posting — largely in cautious language, but some may find the topics — male masturbation and male-male sexual acts — distasteful.)

To understand the brilliant 3/11 Wayno / Piraro Bizarro, you need to marshal detailed information about the Pillsbury Doughboy, the Roman Catholic confessional, the language of male masturbation in English, and self-rising flour (I wonder what, say, a Japanese exchange student in the U.S. would make of the cartoon; there is just so much culturally specific knowledge needed to understand it):


(#1)¬†(If you‚Äôre puzzled by the odd symbols in the cartoon ‚ÄĒ Dan Piraro says there are 5 in this strip ‚ÄĒ see this Page.)

You must recognize the central figure as Poppin’ Fresh the Pillsbury Doughboy (though you can’t see the Pillsbury label on his chef’s hat), the dough-creature mascot of the (American) Pillsbury baking brand since 1965; and you must recognize that he’s at the grill, or screen, separating the penitent from the priest in the confessional box of a Roman Catholic Church, where he is confessing his sins (seeking absolution from the priest); then you must understand that the particular sin he’s confessing is masturbation (stimulating his penis by hand to become erect — to¬†rise¬†— for the purpose of sexual pleasure), and that this is a grave sin, requiring confession; and finally, and crucially, you have to see that his reference to his masturbating as self-rising¬†(metonymically causing himself to rise) is a play on words, the ordinary use of self-rising¬†being to flour (available mostly in the US and the UK) with added ingredients that will cause dough made from such flour to swell — to rise — on its own.

What makes the cartoon so delightful is that all of this is woven together by the fact that Poppin’ Fresh is an anthropomorphic being — a male one, with the desires of a sexually mature male — made of dough.

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FREDs and their kin

February 24, 2022

(References in plain language to men’s bodies viewed as sexual objects, with a photo, so not suitable for kids or the sexually modest.)

On Facebook yesterday, information from train-watcher Ned Deily about FREDs. That’s FRED, an acronym for flashing rear-end device — an alternative name for end of train device, no doubt devised to provide a pronounceable acronym (FRED) rather than a mere initialism (like ETD). But then we get then nominal rear end, referring not only generally to the back part of something, but also specifically to a person’s buttocks. Which takes us into racy or frankly raunchy territory.

FRED 1, the flashing rear-end device. In brief, from Wikipedia¬†(a) on the end of train device; and then from the¬†Trains & Locomotives Wiki¬†(b) on “End of Train Device” (edited for readability):

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