Hussy/Housewife
Posted: 18 April 2017 08:54 AM   [ Ignore ]
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Hussy—a modification of Middle English husewif—has always had a derogatory sense, but in the past housewife could have been interpreted either way. Today, it seems if one is labeled,"a housewife”, it has more of a derogatory sense. Would I be wrong in saying that some women would be offended and some would not?

What say you?

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Posted: 18 April 2017 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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It could also mean that one was a small roll of basic sewing equipment.

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Posted: 18 April 2017 11:00 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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FWIW, game shows used to introduce some contestants as “a housewife from YadaYada, New York.” Nowadays, it’s “a homemaker from Yada Yada New York.”

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Posted: 18 April 2017 11:27 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Today, it seems if one is labeled,"a housewife”, it has more of a derogatory sense.

This is new to me. I’m not sure the statement means anything, and I feel it should be challenged. In what society does “housewife” have a derogatory sense, please? More of a derogatory sense than what? and just what is the derogatory sense?  Is there an implication of immorality? / stupidity? / lack of education? / social undesirability? / use of wrong deodorant? / sexual inadequacy? / what?

As for the sewing kit, Jack Aubrey always carries one (see, e.g. The Surgeon’s Mate).  O’Brian spells it hussif

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Posted: 18 April 2017 12:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Among those who feel that a woman can do as much as a man in the world outside of the household a woman who chooses to stay at home and be a homemaker can be looked on as not living up to her potential.  Then there’s the husband.

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Posted: 18 April 2017 12:37 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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Logophile - 18 April 2017 08:54 AM

Hussy—a modification of Middle English husewif—has always had a derogatory sense

Not in the earliest examples given in the OED.

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Posted: 18 April 2017 01:04 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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This is new to me. I’m not sure the statement means anything, and I feel it should be challenged. In what society does “housewife” have a derogatory sense, please? More of a derogatory sense than what? and just what is the derogatory sense? 

Apparently some people do find the term offensive. I don’t know in what society it would have a derogatory sense. I think that perhaps certain career women might be opposed to the term. 

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/21/world/europe/21iht-LETTER.html

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Posted: 18 April 2017 01:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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kurwamac - 18 April 2017 12:37 PM

Logophile - 18 April 2017 08:54 AM
Hussy—a modification of Middle English husewif—has always had a derogatory sense

Not in the earliest examples given in the OED.

I could be wrong, but in the earliest examples it seemed to have a dual connotation.

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Posted: 18 April 2017 01:42 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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I’ve always thought of “housewife” as an occupation --- one calling for a remarkable variety of skills. In today’s modern world, many women combine it with other occupations. In my family, there are women who could variously be described as: “housewife and bank clerk”, “school teacher and housewife”, doctor and housewife”, housewife and genetic scientist”, or simply “housewife”; as well as one case of a marriage which failed, because the wife wished to share the “housewife” part with the husband, who was incapable of rising to the challenge (in the macho, male-dominated society in which I live, most husbands would be equally incapable of rising to such a challenge). I think the term “housewife” can be derogatory only when used by a male with a contemptibly macho outlook (whether overt or covert) --- never, when used by someone who understands what the term actually involves.

I read the article on logophile’s link. Pathetic. Guess I’m old-fashioned....

(raises hands in surrender and crawls back into his time-warp)

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Posted: 18 April 2017 04:40 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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I could be wrong, but in the earliest examples it seemed to have a dual connotation.

You’re wrong. The earliest examples are clearly not derogatory. It’s not until the seventeenth century that the derogatory sense of hussy develops.

Ditto for housewife. The derogatory sense was a later development, in this case the sixteenth century. I wouldn’t say it’s exactly considered derogatory today—the original derogatory sense is long obsolete. The attitude that woman would be “just a housewife” is belittling and offensive, but I don’t think the term itself is offensive. Some women proudly call themselves housewives.

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Posted: 19 April 2017 04:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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I’ve always thought of “housewife” as an occupation --- one calling for a remarkable variety of skills.

And in the first few centuries of the word’s history the variety was far greater. Not every married woman could claim the title, which carried clear connotations of competence and status. To the skills you mentioned, add: ale-brewing, breadmaking, spinning, weaving and clothes-making, small-animal husbandry (and the killing and butchering thereof), dairying and cheesemaking, vegetable growing, preparation of medicines, sick-nursing, and others too numerous to mention.  (Though oddly enough, usually not childcare - that was considered not skilled enough work to merit the housewife’s attention, and was normally delegated to an older child, a feeble old person, or a teenage servant. )

As for hussy, a few years ago a friend told me she had read in some newspaper or magazine that it originally meant ‘the kind of girl who hangs around with hussars’. Has anyone else come across that one?

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Posted: 20 April 2017 11:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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OED hasn’t come across it. The earliest citation for hussy meaning household manager is 1630, and only in 1650 is the citation for hussy a term of derision. Hussy is from housewife, which is (surprise, surprise) from house+wife, not related to hussar - Etymology:  < Hungarian huszar, originally ‘freebooter, free-lance’, later ‘light horseman’, < Old Serbian husar , also gusar , hursar , gursar , kursar pirate, robber, freebooter, < Italian corsaro , corsare , corsair n (OED).

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Posted: 20 April 2017 11:56 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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ElizaD - 20 April 2017 11:51 PM

The earliest citation for hussy meaning household manager is 1630

I think you meant to type 1530.

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Posted: 21 April 2017 04:56 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I didn’t mean to suggest that hussy actually had anything to do with hussars! I just wondered how widespread this folk-etymology was, because I haven’t encountered it myself.

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Posted: 21 April 2017 06:08 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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When I was in the British Army in the mid-60s a small sewing kit which was standard issue was termed a housewife. I see that OED has this usage and defines just as I recall it.

housewife, n.

4. A small case or pouch for needles, thread, and other small sewing items.Often in the form of a length of soft fabric, divided into pockets, that may be rolled up when not in use.

1735 Lives Most Remarkable Criminals I. 444 Upon turning the Pocket out, he found only a Thread Paper, a Housewife, and a Crown piece.

Dollars to doughnuts the military does not thus style it these days!

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