by Marinka on May 11, 2009

This weekend I decided that Husbandrinka and I needed to expand our vocabulary. I asked him if he agreed and he said “whatever” which translates to “yes, and you are the most beautiful woman that I’ve ever seen and I’ve seen many women, but not in an inappropriate way” so I asked him if he knew the origin of the word “cuckold”. Because I like making conversation.

So for those of you still grappling with the English, cuckold means a man whose wife is having an affair.

My first issue with it is that I always thought that it was Cockhold, like the man whose wife is cheating on him is literally left there holding his own dick.

Apparently, that’s not the case.

Cuckold is derived from the Old French for the cuckoo, cocu, with the pejorative suffix -ald. The earliest written use of the Middle English derivation, cokewold, occurs in 1250. The females of certain varieties of cuckoo lay their eggs in other bird’s nests, freeing themselves from the need to nurture the eggs to hatching.

Ok, that’s from Wikpedia and it makes absolutely no sense. Like since when is “-ald” a pejorative suffix? Unless Archie is a fun name and ArchibALD is an insult. Like if you’re trying to be friendly to someone, you’d say, “hey, your head is really b!” But if they were an enemy or something, you’d say “Hey, fucker, your head is bALD!”

And then females laying eggs? WHAT? Ok, so they lay the eggs and run off to do some shopping or whatever and how does that translate to a man whose wife is having an affair?

But I’m not going to reinvent language, so let’s just take it as a given that a cuckold is a man whose wife is having an affair. And apparently somehow there’s a connection to horns. And there is word that there was a funloving tradition of men whose wives were cheating on them being dragged out into the square and made to put on antlers to show that they have horns.

Cuckolds have sometimes been written as “wearing the horns of a cuckold” or just “wearing the horns”. This refers to the fact that the man being cuckolded is the last to know of his wife’s infidelity. He is wearing horns that can be seen by everybody but him. This also refers to a tradition claiming that in villages of unknown European location, the community would gather to collectively humiliate a man whose wife gives birth to a child recognizably not his own. According to this legend, a parade was held in which the hapless husband is forced to wear antlers on his head as a symbol of his wife’s infidelity.

Is it me, or is that like the worst surprise party ever? And do people just have antlers laying around their houses?

“Hey, Jane! Can I borrow that set of antlers? I have a surprise for Tommy this weekend.”
“Sorry.Fucking Lucy, borrowed it last month and still hasn’t returned them. Probably sodomizing someone with them, for all I know. Skank bitchald.”

What new words did you use learn this weekend?

Have you checked out The Mouthy Housewives yet?

One year ago ...

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Pansy Wittol November 17, 2011 at 11:07 pm

OK, so:
1. -ald is a pejorative suffix in OLD FRENCH, which is where the word comes from.
2. The habit of some species of cuckoos to lay their eggs in others nest (tricking them into raising their offspring) make them a figurative representation of infidelity in western literature. Since a cuckold could not be sure the children he was raising were his own or his wife’s lover’s, he was seen to be in an analogous situation.
3. While the entymology of “cuckold” is clear (and available in most dictionaries), the origin of the European association of cuckolds with antlers and/or horns is less so. Most scholars believe it is an allusion to the mating habits of stags. Stags collect harems of females and lose them to their opponent if defeated in horn-butting contest by another stag. The lone stag than wanders on alone, starting over. However, it may also be caught up in the iconography of the “horned god,” the variously named pre-Christian European deity closely associated with fertility.
4. Whether the literal wearing of horns as a matter of community scorn was a real ritual or a folk-tale is debated by historians of the period.
5. Yes, in Early Modern Europe people did have antlers lying around their houses. Deer and even Moose were eaten and antlers were used for a variety of folk rituals, ceremonies, and customs.


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