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wench

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message 1: by Phil (new)

Phil J | 97 comments How offensive was this word in the 1500s? It often comes across as being just a synonym for "woman," but sometimes it seems like a dig. I'm reading Richard III right now, and when Dickie Trey (as I call him) uses it, it definitely seems like a slam on the noblewoman he's speaking of.

Is it class based? Is it okay when referring to Hostess Quickly, but not when referring to Lady Anne?


message 2: by Monica (new)

Monica (mismoniker) | 14 comments It seems to be synonymous with lass, but there can be connotations of being a whore. But Petruchio uses it frequently "a lusty wench," "why there's a wench." But those aren't so much insults, especially the latter example as it follows her final monologue.


message 3: by Phil (new)

Phil J | 97 comments Monica wrote: "But Petruchio uses it frequently "a lusty wench," "why there's a wench."

"Lusty wench" would not necessarily be an insult if "lusty" means healthy/vital/energetic. So it was a synonym for "lass," as you said.


message 4: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
When in a rush I use this site a lot while reading Shakespeare...

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?t...


message 5: by Phil (new)

Phil J | 97 comments So, often unmarried, usually working class, sometimes a euphemism for prostitute. Thanks, Candy!


message 6: by Martin (new)

Martin | 39 comments "Wench" is still current in England, or was when I was young. Is it used in America?


message 7: by Phil (new)

Phil J | 97 comments We use neither "wench" nor "lass." Our closest term would probably be "chick," which is either lighthearted or faintly derogatory depending on the context. You might call Zoey Deschanel a fun-loving chick without problem, but if you called Hillary Clinton "one serious chick" it would come across as disrespectful.

Although I'd love to see that as her new campaign slogan. Hillary: One Serious Chick


message 8: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Struck (struck_chris) | 17 comments I wouldn't say chick is like wench. It's more like lass.

Believe it or not, I found out what lass meant by playing Pokemon red in the mid 90s. It is still an active character type, so hopefully if you've played pokemon you would know of it. It's not used much outside of that.

Wench, on the other hand, maybe try watching the 1st Pirates of the Caribbean or reading Treasure Island. It has to have been used at some point.

I realize that you're just looking for meanings, but although these words are uncommon, they're active parts of the language. You might notice them more now ;)


message 9: by Phil (new)

Phil J | 97 comments Well, yes, I encounter them in the US, just not in common usage either written or oral. Mostly, I see them in things that are using British English (like Pokemon) or being "historical" like Medieval Times.


message 10: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (stewartry) | 32 comments It depends mostly on context. It can go just the way the Renaissance Faire uses it: sort of equivalent to "babe", with sexual connotations (Mercutio calls Rosaline a "pale hard-hearted wench"), or it can just mean "girl" - Prospero calls his daughter "wench" a few times (as well as "thee, my dear one, thee, my daughter", so it's obviously not derogatory there), and the Nurse uses it for Juliet. So class isn't entirely part of it - though if anyone other than a father, husband, or nurse called an upper-crust female "wench" there would be hell to pay.

Ah, I found Ehren Ziegler of Chop Bard on the subject:

"We hear the word 'wench' now and think 'bad slut', or some slur - it doesn't sound like Prospero's a very good father, calling his daughter a wench. However, when this was written, 'wench' was a term of endearment especially for wives and daughters - it just means 'young woman'. Of course, it also had a derogatory use for immoral or low-class women, which eventually took over the meaning and became the standard definition. But as Shakespeare uses it here it's meant as a term of endearment."

Then, just to illustrate, later Gonzalo has the line "as leaky as an unstanched wench", which is thoroughly in the ...er, not-endearment camp.

Then of course there's the International Wenches Guild...

(Hi, I'm new.)


message 11: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
Hi Tracey! Welcome...

My response to it's meaning and usage (HI Martin!) is the same as yours. With a couple additions....

Wench is used more in Canada...as a fun, humorous way to say a woman is super sexy, bringing beer and intelligent///intelligent in a wily manner. But it's really only used as a comedic affectionate term with people...probably in college or social party situations. Or for flirting. Flirting in a certain age group.

Yes, it is also found in pirate culture. (yes Martin, there is "pirate culture"

Pirate culture is a group of people, a little like goths...who dress in pirate clothes even while going grocery store shopping. They are very rare and when one sees a pirate it's quite exciting!


message 12: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
Good point about gaming culture Phil, that is another source for usage of wench!


message 13: by Martin (new)

Martin | 39 comments Hi Candy, I wanna go to Canada and see pirate wenches!

Welcome Tracey -- very clever post.


message 14: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (stewartry) | 32 comments Thanks!

Hit any Renaissance Faire, and you're sure to see some pirate wenches...


message 15: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
I saw some pirates shopping at Whole Foods a couple months ago here in Chicago. The fellow had a huge red beard an antique shipping/pirate hat and a pewter stein hanging from his belt. I tried not to stare.


message 16: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (stewartry) | 32 comments Candy wrote: "I saw some pirates shopping at Whole Foods a couple months ago here in Chicago. The fellow had a huge red beard an antique shipping/pirate hat and a pewter stein hanging from his belt. I tried not ..."

I'd give a dollar to know what they were buying.


message 17: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 24 comments Ok ! I do really love the above website for Wenches ! HA! It does follow along with what my theory of the word " wench" was taught to mean in my Shakespearean Literature Classes !
I would dare someone to join the club with me and we can officially report back to our fellow group members if this is a safe gathering and something extracurricular we may consider including in our group activities! HA!
You all know I have a lovely grin and a wink to go with this proposal right now -- right !

What a great group we have !

Dawn


message 18: by Christine (new)

Christine | 434 comments Hi guys, I just stumbled upon the Wench discussion. What fun!

I always thought the word had a bit of a connotation of teasing -- maybe in some cases derogatory. Personally I love the word! As was mentioned, a favorite at Ren Faires :-)


message 19: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (stewartry) | 32 comments Dawn wrote: "I would dare someone to join the club with me..."

I've been a member since 2003 (yes, I am literally a card-carrying wench!) It's not nearly as active as it was years ago, but Rennie Wenches are a great group of ladies, so if by "safe" you mean "not likely to be attacked", absolutely. If by "safe" you mean "clean" ...Nope. :)


message 20: by Steve (new)

Steve Finegan | 26 comments Just for fun, here's the OED definition:

wench, n.
View as: Outline |Full entryKeywords: On |OffQuotations: Show all |Hide all
Pronunciation: /wɛnʃ/
Forms: ME–16 wenche, (ME weynche, ME wenge, 15 wensche, whence), ME– wench; Sc.15 winsch, ... (Show More)
Frequency (in current use):
Etymology: Middle English wenche , shortened form of early Middle English wenchel: see wenchel n.
1.
Thesaurus »
Categories »

a. A girl, maid, young woman; a female child. Now dial.

c1290 S. Eng. Leg., St. Kath. 75 Nou is þis..gret schame..to sende a-boute..After þe gretteste Maistres, for-to despuyti a-ȝen a fol wenche.
a1300 E.E. Psalter lxvii. 27 Bifor come princes samened to singand þar, In midde wenches of timpans war.
a1375 William of Palerne (1867) l. 1901 William & his worþi wenche [sc. Melior, his betrothed] þan were bliþe of þe help.
c1380 Eng. Wycliffite Serm. in Sel. Wks. I. 59 Crist came to þe hous of þis prince þat þe wenche lay deed inne.
a1450 Mirk's Festial 201 Then cryed þe fende and sayde: ‘Alas,..al my myȝt ys lorne, now such a ȝeong wench hath ouercomen me’.
?1520 J. Rastell Nature .iiii. Element sig. Bvij, Than we wyll haue lytell nell A proper wenche she daunsith well.
1548 N. Udall et al. tr. Erasmus Paraphr. Newe Test. I. Luke i. f. 57–58, To whom it had been an happie chaunce to haue brought foorth a wenche, but a muche more luckie happe it was, to haue brought foorth a soonne.
1586 in T. P. Wadley Notes Wills Orphan Bk. Bristol (1886) 250 If my wief be with Child whether it bee a Boye or a wenche I doe geve and bequeath vnto yt xxli.
a1616 Shakespeare Antony & Cleopatra (1623) i. ii. 32 Prythee how many Boyes and Wenches must I haue.
1648 O. Cromwell Let. to Norton 3 Apr. The money I shall need for my two little Wenches; and thereby I shall free my Son from being charged with them.
1665 A. Wood Life & Times (1892) II. 53 One Mr. John Viccaridg his child (a wench) of 11 years old.
1787 R. Burns Let. 1 June (2001) I. 120 A clean-shankit, straught, tight, weel-far'd winch.
1860 ‘G. Eliot’ Mill on Floss I. i. ii. 12 ‘It seems a bit of a pity, though,’ said Mr Tulliver, ‘as the lad should take after the mother's side istead o' the little wench.’
1895 S. R. Crockett Men of Moss-hags xl. 287 For she was ever the most spirity wench in the world.
(Hide quotations)

Thesaurus »

b. A girl of the rustic or working class.

c1574–5 G. Harvey Let.-bk. (1884) 145 She was but a milkmaide, and a plaine cuntrie wench.
1590 Spenser Faerie Queene i. iii. sig. C3, She to her gan call,..But the rude wench her answerd nought at all.
1620 T. Shelton tr. Cervantes 2nd Pt. Don Quixote x. 59 Seeing none but the three wenches, he was somewhat troubled.
1717 Lady M. W. Montagu Let. 1 Apr. (1965) I. 332 These Wenches [daughters of Greek gardeners]..pass their time at their Looms.
1843 G. P. R. James Forest Days I. v. 97 His taste lies amongst country wenches.


message 21: by Martin (last edited Aug 02, 2016 03:01AM) (new)

Martin | 39 comments An impressive bibliography, Steve!

Well, at least I have one of those books, namely: "1717 Lady M. W. Montagu Let. 1 Apr." Her letter of the 1st April 1717 is from the famous "Turkish Letters", this one to Alexander Pope.

Read more here,

https://www.goodreads.com/photo/group...

and here's the book (1763), one of 3 vols.

https://www.goodreads.com/photo/group...


message 22: by Steve (new)

Steve Finegan | 26 comments Martin, I can't take credit for that impressive bib. That was courtesy of the good ol' OED. Thanks for sharing those links! Wonderful!


message 23: by Dawn (new)

Dawn (goodreadscomdawn_irena) | 24 comments Well Gentlemen ~ I am impressed by all of your contributions on the subject of " Wenches" ! You have done very well to not just assume the most widely negative acceptance of the word ! HA! We ladies have gained your resort if not your equal pay ! HA! I promise this is just a joke ! We all know that some women are making higher wages than men and choosing the nontraditional routes in life ! I hope I do not offend when I say this one , but I really hope that this is NOT our year in the USA to break the glass ceiling and vote in a first woman President ! HA! I know our choices are not great but that woman scares me to death !!! HA! She is not even fit to be called a Wench ! HA!

Sorry for expressing my very biased opinion , I really am just trying to laugh at a situation in life that can't be fixed ! I am like a Jester in the King's court who tries to fool everyone into thinking that nothing is wrong when devilish schemes are happening in the background !!!
In Jest ~ Dawn


message 24: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (stewartry) | 32 comments Not to politicize the thread, but I have to quote Wil Wheaton: "The reality of this election is that we can choose between a disappointing Democrat and the end of the world."

This concludes the Election 2016 portion of my comments. :)


message 25: by Lea (new)

Lea (learachel) | 197 comments Dawn wrote: "Well Gentlemen ~ I am impressed by all of your contributions on the subject of " Wenches" ! You have done very well to not just assume the most widely negative acceptance of the word ! HA! We ladie..."

For the love of god, please don't bring politics into this discussion. It's the one place (or was the one place) where the idiocy of that flop-haired bigot and his divorced-from-reality supporters hadn't entered my life. So much for that.

Hillary has my full support.


message 26: by Martin (new)

Martin | 39 comments I'm not American, but can fully understand why the forthcoming Pres. election should be so much on American minds . . . .

But back to the thread topic: is there a word for a male wench?


message 27: by Steve (new)

Steve Finegan | 26 comments Martin wrote: "I'm not American, but can fully understand why the forthcoming Pres. election should be so much on American minds . . . .

But back to the thread topic: is there a word for a male wench?"


Swain?


message 28: by Steve (new)

Steve Finegan | 26 comments The OED has several definitions. Here's one...

swain, n.
View as: Outline |Full entryKeywords: On |OffQuotations: Show all |Hide all
Pronunciation: Brit. /sweɪn/ , U.S. /sweɪn/
Forms: ME swein, ME sweyn, ME swayn, ME–15 swayne, squayne, Sc. swane, ME–16 swaine, (ME swæin... (Show More)
Frequency (in current use):
Etymology: < Old Norse sveinn boy, servant, attendant, = Old English swán swon n. ... (Show More)

†3. A man; a youth; a boy. Obs.

c1386 Chaucer Sir Thopas 13 Sire Thopas wax a doghty swayn.
a1400 (▸a1325) Cursor Mundi (Gött.) l. 18987 Of mi gast i sal a streme To suayn [Trin. Cambr. mon] and womman giue alsua. [Cf. Joel ii. 29.]
c1400 (▸?c1380) Cleanness l. 1509 Swyfte swaynes ful swyþe swepen þertylle.
c1400 Laud Troy Bk. 15265 How sche myght venge hir on that swayn That hadde hir two sones sclayn.
c1440 York Myst. xvii. 207 Nowe shall þei..tell me of þat litill swayne [sc. the child Jesus].
?1507 W. Dunbar Tua Mariit Wemen (Rouen) in Poems (1998) 47 Thus beswik I that swane with my sueit wordis.
1579 Spenser Shepheardes Cal. Mar. 79 With that sprong forth a naked swayne [sc. Cupid].
1633 P. Fletcher Purple Island xii. lxv. 175 By a mighty Swain he [sc. the Dragon] soon was led Unto a thousand thousand torturings.


message 29: by Steve (new)

Steve Finegan | 26 comments Martin, I see you asked if "wench" was used in America. No, or very rarely, and only in a Renaissance fair sort of way.


message 30: by Steve (new)

Steve Finegan | 26 comments In Romeo & Juliet, Act 2, Scene 5, the Nurse says to Juliet, "Go thy ways, wench." If the word was in any way derogatory, a character of lower station would not use it with one of higher station. It was simply said in passing among lifelong companions, as if she'd said: "Go thy ways, girl."


message 31: by Christine (new)

Christine | 434 comments Steve wrote: "In Romeo & Juliet, Act 2, Scene 5, the Nurse says to Juliet, "Go thy ways, wench." If the word was in any way derogatory, a character of lower station would not use it with one of higher station. I..."

Yes, I agree -- the relationship of the Nurse to Juliet was (although lower to higher station) also one of camaraderie/ intimacy. The Nurse would not use a bad word for Juliet!


message 32: by Christine (new)

Christine | 434 comments Steve wrote: "The OED has several definitions. Here's one...

swain, n...."


Swain! There is another great word!


message 33: by Lea (new)

Lea (learachel) | 197 comments My husband tells me that there's a beer commercial running right now in the U.S. that uses the word wench. It is used here, just rarely.

Now swain, I have never heard used, on TV or elsewhere


message 34: by Steve (new)

Steve Finegan | 26 comments Lea wrote: "My husband tells me that there's a beer commercial running right now in the U.S. that uses the word wench. It is used here, just rarely. Now swain, I have never heard used, on TV or elsewhere"

The following is from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swain_(... The noun swain, meaning a rustic lover or boyfriend, cf. the numerous examples in Shakespeare's work, including his lyric, "[w]ho is Sylvia, what is she that all our Swains commend her" (from The Two Gentlemen of Verona) and "O God! methinks it were a happy life, To be no better than a homely swain;" (from King Henry VI)
There are also specific nautical words involving swain: boatswain (literally "young man in charge of a boat") which can be seen in Shakespeare's The Tempest, and coxswain.


message 35: by Tracey (new)

Tracey (stewartry) | 32 comments Martin wrote: "But back to the thread topic: is there a word for a male wench?"

The Ren Faire equivalent is the Rogue. (Actually, the full name for the guild is The International Brotherhood of Rogues, Scoundrels, and Cads.) (There's a guild for just about everyone.)

Heh: "Ask yourself these simple questions:

1. Do you always shake hands with someone by grabbing the other person's wrist?
2. Do you carry a bigger knife than the persons trying to mug you?
3. Do you know the name of every Alewench & Rosegirl at a Faire? (and their natural hair color?)
4. Does your belt feel uncomfortable without pouches & weapons hanging from it?
5. Do you have a tankard in your car at all times, just in case?
6. Do you wonder what every woman you meet would look like in a bodice?
7. Have you been known to elicit world-weary sighs from wenches at 50 paces?
8. Can you generate the emotions of lust and hate in the same woman at the same time?
9. Have you ever played "Drench A Wench" with a slingshot & a wet sponge?
10. When someone says, "John Barleycorn is dead," do you cheer?" (There are more, but it gets more, er, colorful.)

Interesting that "rogue" is a sort of endearing phrase, while "wench" tends to feel a bit more derogatory in "the real world".


message 36: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
Candy wrote: "I saw some pirates shopping at Whole Foods a couple months ago here in Chicago. The fellow had a huge red beard an antique shipping/pirate hat and a pewter stein hanging from his belt. I tried not ..."

Booze LOL


message 37: by Candy (new)

Candy | 2752 comments Mod
Love that questionnaire! I DO have a tankard in my car! Oh wait I thought you meant lanyard! LOL

I thought perhaps...I will start a thread about the upcoming election....so those who are interested have a place to share or vent or both LOL.


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