In Reply to: He's got big stones... posted by Mike Gorton on March 19, 2010 at 16:52:
: Looking to research the origin of "he's got big stones, or he's got big balls".
The use of the word "stones" to mean testicles is ancient, as the OED tells us (s.v. stone):
"11. a. A testicle: chiefly in pl. Obs[olete] exc[ept] in vulgar use. (See also BALLOCK-stone.)"
The OED cites examples through the 18th century, of which the first two are: "1154 O.E. Chron. an. 1124 ad fin., Six men spilde of here æon & of here stanes. 1387 TREVISA Higden (Rolls) IV. 289 e rotynge of his priue stones. , , ,:
The OED plainly regards the modern use as vulgar, and doesn't give any examples. The word is nowadays used figuratively, as stones, balls or cohones, to mean guts, courage or daring. I've not heard it with "big" or any other attributive. The common expression is something like, "He's got stones, all right"; or sometimes, to disguise the vulgarity, "Show me that you've really got cojones."
This usage has spawned the adjective "ballsy" to describe an action that takes courage (which presumably comes from testosterone). Remarkable, in my view, is the use of this term, "ballsy," by women to describe the daring actions of other women. Am I wrong, or were there several generations of women trying their damnedest to prove that women don't have to imitate men, and that penis envy is a myth? Testosterone envy, much?