"Thing" as Euphemism?
I promised a little bit of research on a particular meaning of "thing" - and I have only a little to report due to other duties. But I did check my OED and found that the first recorded use of "thing" to mean "privy member, private parts" was 1386 in Chaucer (page 309, middle column, Oxford English Dictionary, 1971 edition).
More recently - in the 19th century, anyway - Angela Heywood was appalled to hear women refer to a man's "thing"! Appalled, that is, that women didn't use the real word, but chose such a euphemism ("Foul-Mouthed Women," Voices of the Nation, Caroline Field Levander, 1998, page 43).
Now, set your mindset on a hermeneutic of suspicion, recall that the protagonist of the novel Daddy-Long-Legs called her 'benefactor a "Thing," and think at least bemusedly about this possibly euphemistic insult.
That's all for now . . .
Labels: Literary Criticism