|A buttock, with another buttock to the right. Collectively, these are known as buttocks|
(photo by Mislav Marohnic)
Noun & verb.
A(1) noun. obsolete. = BUTT noun. Only in OE
A(2) noun. Either of the two fleshy protuberances on the lower rear part of the human body;
a corresponding part of an animal. Usually in plural. ME
A(3) NAUTICAL. noun. The breadth of a ship where the hull rounds down to the stern. E17
A(4) WRESTLING. noun. A throw using the buttocks or hip. L17
A(5) MINING. noun. A break in the line of a coalface, from which coal is being broken out. L19
B(1) verb trans. obsolete. Overtake (a horse) in a race. Only in E17
B(2) WRESTLING. verb trans. Throw by a manoeuvre using the buttocks or hip. L19
buttocked adjective having buttocks (of a specific kind). LME
|Three youths in Napoli|
Wilhelm von Gloedon (1856-1931)
Right, now that we've got all of that etymological, lexicological, high-brow stuff out of the way, we can move on to what everyone's really been waiting for: talking about bums. After all, not one of you clicked on this link, looked up this word, or opened this page thinking: "Hmm. You know what? I'd really like to know the origin of the word buttock." Ha! Busted! Fortunately, buttocks are rather interesting - culturally, anatomically, historically and linguistically - so there's plenty to talk about without reverting to childish bottom-of-the-barrel puns.
Linguistically, the buttocks have a rather dazzling number of synonyms, from the crude to the quaint to the downright bizarre. Some of the less well known include fundament, nates, duff, caboose and, if you're feeling cultured, derrière. Together with this multitude of words for bum, the buttocks have also given us some phonetically marvelous bum-related terms, including the majestic intergluteal cleft, the positively gladiatorial gluteus maximus, and the divinely Grecian callipygian, which is 'pertaining to having well-shaped buttocks'.
Culturally and historically, too, the buttocks are significant - the ancient figurine The Venus of Willendorf, with its exaggerated keister, suggests that they were important to whatever culture made it (although its ultimate purpose and origin is obscure). Other cultures have attached varying degrees of significance to the posterior, with both the ancient Greeks and Chinese having viewed it as erotically important. In modern times, some commentators have noted a resurgence in the sexualisation of the buttocks, with author Ray B. Browne positing that this is connected to the rise of denim jeans, with their close, bottom-hugging fit and the tendency for labels and pockets to be placed directly onto the bum. Not everyone appreciates such gluteal glimpses, however, with the infamous builder's bum (or plumber's butt if you're American) turning the hardiest of stomachs and at times even warranting official crackdowns. Tushé.
|A polar bear's buttocks. And a very brave photographer|
(photo by Valerie's Zoo)
Do you have any fun, buttock-related trivia that you'd like to share?
Do please comment below ... I mean at the bottom ... I mean down ... oh I give up.