Sexual Euphemisms

I’m sorry that I never got to do any writing regarding Yule, so I hope that people are enjoying it (or will be, if you do it later in January).

Instead of my original plan, let’s have some amusement in Edmund Fairfax’s “The Birds and the Bees in Old English” (archive 1, archive 2):

“Birds do it, bees do it”—so the song goes. And yes, the Anglo-Saxons did it and had words for it. So to cut to the chase, how did one say ‘to have sex’ in Old English? As in Modern English, there were a number of words or expressions, although most of the extant items seem to have been euphemisms, not surprisingly, given that much of the writing in OE is devotional in nature.

Edmund Fairfax has various other enjoyable articles, too.  Take a look.

Old English Terms of the Body

It’s undeniable that people in Heathendom like to learn earlier stages of Germanic languages. Typically in the Anglosphere this is Old Norse because of Ásatrú, but outliers do exist. Most, however, want to learn just religious terms, even if that is only a tiny percentage of the overall language. So let’s be contrary and learn about the body in Old English.

The art of medicine is lǣcecræft (masculine). A lǣce (masculine) is a doctor or a physician; a lǣce is also a leech, which was likely assimilated into the first set of meanings by popular etymology. Lācnian is to heal, treat, or cure, while hǣlan is to heal. Doing so probably requires lācnung (“medicine”, feminine), which is possibly a sealf (“salve”, feminine), but all of this might cost lǣcefeoh (“physician’s fee”, neuter). Just be careful of an unlǣce (“unskilled physician”, masculine).

Let’s go over the body now.

Continue reading “Old English Terms of the Body”