Posted by R. Berg on February 22, 2002
In Reply to: Re: Different origin? posted by Word Camel on February 22, 2002
: : : : : : : And we could mention knockers, a mild vulgarism for breasts ... which makes the British music hall song "knockers up, ladies, knockers up..." particularly amusing to us Yanks.
: : : : : : Thank you for sharing.
: : : : : A guinea to a dollar says that "knockers" was originally UK slang. I have no proof, but it just sounds like it should be.
: : : : I'm a little embarrassed to admit I did a word search through the text of Fanny Hill, wondering if knock might turn up. It does, though two out of three times it is to do with doors. The other time alludes to a door, though it's not really a door - and it's the wrong door actually - but either way, it isn't quite what we were looking for.
: : : : Anyway, I'm wondering if any one knows approximately when and where it was first used this way? Maybe if we knew this, we could work out where it's from. Is it cryptically indicated in the definition from the slang dictionary? I wasn't sure about the meanings of the apprevations.
: : : : I'm after that guinea. How many dollars to a guinea do you suppose?
: : : I was trying to direct the discussion towards the wholesome topic of knock-knock jokes. But noooooo.
: : : KNOCKERS - ".the vulgar KNOCKERS (1940s and 1950s)." From the "Wordsworth Book of Euphemism" by Judith S. Neaman and Carole G. Silver (Wordsworth Editions, Hertfordshire, 1995).
: : : " 'Bosom,' 'breast,' and 'tit' (meaning teat) all date from Old English, before the Norman invasion of 1066. Calling the complete female breasts, especially well-developed ones, 'tits,' 'melons,' 'breastworks,' 'boobs,' 'boobies,' 'knobs,' and 'knockers' may be fairly old, but such words were seldom batted about widely until World War II, when pin-up pictures and the American male's 'breast fixation' made them a very popular part of the language." From "I Hear America Talking" by Stuart Berg Flexner (Von Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 1976).
: : The Dictionary of American Slang, ed. Wentworth & Flexner,
1960, says "Although an old term, very common since c1940."
: : The OED doesn't have "knocker" in this sense, but it has another, perhaps related sense for the word: "Slang. A person of 'striking' appearance, or who moves others to admiration. . . . [Representative quotation:] 1620 MIDDLETON They're pretty children both, but here's a wench Will be a knocker."
: Door knockers. Think about it. Breasts sort of rest on the rib cage like the moveable joint on a door knocker. Why would they be referred to as a *pair* of knockers otherwise?
: Just a late night thought...
They would be referred to as a pair of anything because there are two of them. Go to bed. -- rb