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Fine as a potbellied pig
Posted: 14 September 2007 03:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 16 ]
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’Boar-cat’ indicates a male cat (and when applied to male pigs also carries the meaning of uncastrated). OED cite from 1607 (spelled ‘bore’) and from 1797 (spelled ‘boar’)

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Posted: 14 September 2007 03:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 17 ]
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OED:

b. The male or he-cat (formerly also boar-cat, ram-cat) is now colloquially called tom-cat (see TOM); formerly and still in north Engl. and Sc. gib-cat (see GIB); the female or she-cat was formerly also doe-cat.

I always appreciated (note past tense) wolf-whistles, ever since a scathing “Do yer best, luv” was directed at this scrawny thirteen-year-old.  I cringe at the memory.

Edit: and at being pipped by flynn.  Must type faster.

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Posted: 14 September 2007 04:17 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 18 ]
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In an effort to be inoffensive to ladies, unneutered male animals used to be referred to with some strange names. I imagine the idea was that ladies wouldn’t have any idea about castration, and even if they did, wouldn’t be expected to acknowledge their knowledge.

Editorializing aside, a cat able to exercise his inner-lion’s sexual behaviour was called a boar cat. Further research suggests that boar (from ME and OE) was indisputedly the male of swinedom, leading to later use in referring to male animals who were predatory, aggressive, and omniverous - encompassing most of the cat world, including the largest leopards. There were boar raccoons as well, as raccoons are also known as fierce fighters. The term boar to distinguish male from female was in use for the Ramboesque qualities it conjured up for many English speakers.

We seem to have stereotypes for animal terminology meant to emphasize the perceived aggressive nature of other species, so males of many species are called Boars and Bulls. Whales and sharks, even.

Edit: Typing is not my strong suit, so I didn’t see the two posts above. Bah.

[ Edited: 14 September 2007 04:20 AM by Liza ]
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Posted: 14 September 2007 05:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 19 ]
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Grose must have been using “intriguing’ in a way we don’t now, too, maybe with a double meaning as in “palace intrigue” or folk in cabal putting down a theatrical production unless it just meant yearning in those days in animals

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Posted: 14 September 2007 06:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 20 ]
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This generic use of boar to refer to the male of any species doesn’t appear in the OED (which also lists boar-hound, but without definition and could mean a dog used for hunting boars), seems to be an American Southernism. It’s listed in DARE with a fair number of citations.

When I was stationed in Germany, we referred to the wild pigs that inhabited Grafenwoehr training area as boar-hogs (whether male or female; one might say, “I saw a mama boar-hog and her three piglets"). That’s listed in DARE too, another Southernism--although DARE restricts its use to males. Not surprising that US military speech is littered with Southernisms--probably a result of all the military bases in the American South. We used to joke that the Army would issue Southern accents to officers who reached the rank of colonel.

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Posted: 15 September 2007 08:09 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 21 ]
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The Oxford Journals of 1888 have an article by E. G. Younger about the use of the term boar cat in ME and OE and he has a Dutch cognate listed as well.
Many American Southernisms are uncorrupted by American English. I’ve heard it said that in the US, the best source for pre-Revolution English terminology, untainted by association with other cultures as immigrants assimilated, is in the South. Could that be why there is a richness of terms there lacking in the rest of the country?

[ Edited: 17 September 2007 05:44 PM by Liza ]
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Posted: 15 September 2007 09:01 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 22 ]
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The author of ‘The Water is Wide’ and ‘The Lords of Discipline’ (whose name temporarily escapes me) suggests that the dialect of Yamacraw Island, where the first book is set, has remnants of Elizabethan English in it. How reliable a commentator he is I wouldn’t like to say.

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