Compound Fractures: Dirty OED Entry 1

So I’m looking at verb-noun compounds in English, and there are a number of endocentric compounds that begin with the verb blow. Blow comes from OE bláwan, and shows up in a lot of endocentric compounds, which makes sense, since it is a Germanic word. (Trust me on that.)

Blowgun (which comes from blowpipe), blowtorch (which comes from blowlamp) and blowfish are some of the common Modern English forms that use blow. Then of course there is blowjob, which my friend Jason thought up when I told him I was looking for verb-noun compounds in English. This tricked me into saying “Hmm, okay, I’ll look into blowjobs” in public. (Between that discussion and his political-ethical considerations about what makes necrophilia disgusting and illegal, “Hey Jason, how’s necrophilia going?” we seem to have conversations that are quite dangerous when out of context. But he’s cool. Check out his new vlog.)

Blowjob is first attested in 1961, while hand job (a noun-noun compound) first appeared in 1939. Both are American in origin (U! S! A!). Thus, it is very likely that blow job is modeled after the –job pattern of sex acts, rather than being independently created as a verb-noun compound.

And to top it all off, I found this little charmer with one citation from 1885… yes, it’s blow-cock. It really could NOT look more dirty if it tried, but apparently it is a boiler component. The definition even sounds like a euphemism…

So there it is. A dirty dip into etymology.

(All of the data from this post comes from

May 15, 2012

in compounds,sex,Words & Origins

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