1 of 2
1
Fore-buttocks
Posted: 29 March 2013 04:21 AM   [ Ignore ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2331
Joined  2007-01-30

Interesting term for a woman’s breasts. Not inapt actually when one thinks of the cleavage and of builder’s bum, as it’s known in the UK (or the crack of doom as it’s known in our house). OED labels it obsolete and jocular. Rare too I fancy as I’ve only come across it once or twice in my reading.

Incidentally the cite OED gives for it may tend to mislead. Here it is:

† fore-buttock n. Obs. (jocular) the breast (of a woman).

1727 Swift Sylv. in Misc. IV. 137 Her Fore Buttocks to the navel bare.

The unwary might come away from that believing the line is by Swift. In truth the Miscellanies was a compilation put together by Swift and his friends Pope, Arbuthnot and Gay, all of whom contributed pieces to the collection. The line in question is from Sylvia: A Fragment,which is by Pope. I excerpt:

Now with a modest Matron’s careful Air
Now her Fore Buttocks to the Navel bare

Many of the lines from the fragment Pope worked into his Moral Essays IV: On the Character of Women but the line in question he used again on one of his Horatian satires (Second Satire of the First Book of Horace), the place I first came across it

Nothing in Nature is so lewd as Peg,
Yet for the world she would not show her leg,
While bashful Jenny, e’en at Morning-prayer,
Spreads her Fore-buttocks to the Navel bare.

To the navel? Now that’s cleavage! (Or poetic licence, one of the two).

[ Edited: 29 March 2013 04:26 AM by aldiboronti ]
Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 March 2013 07:26 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3498
Joined  2007-01-29

Sounds repulsive to me; I’m glad it never achieved wider circulation.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 March 2013 08:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3100
Joined  2007-02-26

Yeesh.

Was it a one-off? Any other citations?

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 March 2013 10:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2331
Joined  2007-01-30

No, that’s the only citation. In fact it makes me wonder whether Pope himself came up with it. He and his fellow Scriblerians certainly “delighted in the jest unclean”.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 March 2013 11:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  825
Joined  2007-03-01

I must say, that’s a peculiarly and unnecessarily unlovely way to refer to a woman’s breasts. I have several times heard Frenchmen describe a lady’s generous embonpoint by saying ‘Il y a du monde au balcon’ which I think is a delightful way of putting it.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 March 2013 03:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3100
Joined  2007-02-26

From the people who brought us décolleté.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 March 2013 04:23 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1178
Joined  2007-02-14

I do remember reading at some point the theory that human females developed their permanent breasts to imitate the buttocks.  FWIW.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 29 March 2013 04:36 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2836
Joined  2007-01-31

Desmond Morris presents that notion in The Naked Ape.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 March 2013 01:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2331
Joined  2007-01-30

Ah, that’s where I saw it. I had a feeling I’d seen the connection posited before, I just couldn’t recollect where.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 30 March 2013 07:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  1369
Joined  2007-01-29

Re “the theory that human females developed their permanent breasts to imitate the buttocks”.  That wouldn’t be my choice.  But still - who am I to argue with the experts?

I think Pope et al were being particularly crude when many slang words (such as “bubby” from which “boob/y") had been around since at least 1690.  “Fore-buttocks” is neither clever, funny, nor informative.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 April 2013 07:12 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  811
Joined  2007-06-20

Fore-buttocks is not, I suggest, as bad as the Australianism ”top-bollocks”.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 24 April 2013 07:43 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3100
Joined  2007-02-26

Fore-buttocks is not, I suggest, as bad as the Australianism ”top-bollocks”.

The what? I must have heard Australians use a hundred expressions for breasts but that isn’t one of them.
“Bollocks” is a Briticism.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 April 2013 12:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  811
Joined  2007-06-20
OP Tipping - 24 April 2013 07:43 AM

Fore-buttocks is not, I suggest, as bad as the Australianism ”top-bollocks”.

The what? I must have heard Australians use a hundred expressions for breasts but that isn’t one of them.
“Bollocks” is a Briticism.

The first place I saw “top-bollocks” used was in Private Eye magazine’s Barry McKenzie cartoons, featuring a parody Australian, and written by the Australian Barry “Edna Everage” Humphries, which introduced a number of Australianisms into the UK, such as “chunder”, which led me to assume that it, too, was an Australianism. Apologies if, as appears to be the case, I was mistaken.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 April 2013 09:38 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  825
Joined  2007-03-01

It’s possible of course that Humphries invented it himself.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 25 April 2013 03:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  3100
Joined  2007-02-26

It’s possible of course that Humphries invented it himself.

I would reckon so. He did a bit of that.

Profile
 
 
Posted: 26 April 2013 12:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
Avatar
RankRankRankRank
Total Posts:  2331
Joined  2007-01-30

I have fond memories of the Barry McKenzie strip. Wasn’t pointing Percy at the porcelain one of his stock phrases? Was that an Australianism or a Humphreysism?

Profile
 
 
   
1 of 2
1
 
‹‹ The accent grave      Ishtar and Easter ››