Many people wonder what the farmer who first discovered milk was doing with the cow in the first place (because drinking a mysterious liquid taken from a cow’s udder seems like the least sanitary thing on the planet), but I have another, equally as perplexing question: who was the first person to discover kissing and how? It seems entirely unlikely that two people walking from opposite directions happened to trip at the same time and collide into each other’s faces, instigating the first kiss, so I can only assume that at one point, someone thought it would be a good idea to put their lips to another person’s lips and see what happens. Since that fateful day, people around the world have been locking lips and “macking” on each other, so much so that there exists an entire chuck of the English language dedicated to kissing slang. For example:
1. Slouster (n.): a sloppy kiss
While walking around the city with a friend of mine the other day, we stumbled upon a hidden shop filled with books that were, at some point or another, probably part of a dinosaur’s library. Among this ancient collection was a Scottish thesaurus, containing a slew of old and new Scottish slang terms that were too delightful to ignore, including the word slouster. The definition of this word, “to kiss in a slobbery way,” makes sense when you consider its other definition: to dabble in water or mud. (You’re welcome for that visual.) You won’t find this word (or the next two) in a modern dictionary, though, seeing as they’re a bit outdated.
2. Sappie (adj.): soft, drawn out; tender
When your mom says she doesn’t like rom-coms because they’re “sappy,” this is not what she meant (though it can certainly apply). According to my aforementioned Scottish thesaurus, sappie can mean anything from “soft and drawn out” to “tender and juicy” when describing a kiss, an adjective that sounds significantly less romantic when you discover the “juicy” connotations come from its alternate association with “savory, fresh-cooked meat.”
3. Tirl (n.): a pecking kiss
Another outdated Scottish slang term, tirl refers to a “slight pat or touch on the lips.” In other words, what your mom gave you when she used to tuck you in at night or what you and your middle school crush did three months into your relationship. (I’m quickly realizing my mistake in juxtaposing those two different scenarios. My apologies.)
4. Yankee dime (n.): a quick, innocent kiss
Originating after the Civil War, a Yankee dime was supposedly a term used by bitters Southerners to describe Northern dollar bills, which they deemed useless because it was not “Confederate money.” How this term evolved into a kiss, I have no idea. Perhaps a Southerner asked a Northerner for a Yankee dime, and the latter misconstrued that as a request for a kiss, and then things happened. Another theory is that “Yankees” from the North would rather pay for something with a kiss than with a coin. Some say that Yankee dime has nothing to do with war, that the term emerged from a generation of grandparents asking their kids to do favors for them in return for a Yankee dime (a form of currency that I’m sure the children wanted nothing to do with).
5. Love bite (n.): a hickey
I’ve been living in the UK for 4 months now, and while I’m not a fan of many words in the British vocabulary (is snogging supposed to sound enticing?), one phrase I’ve been hearing seems actually more preferable than the American version. Those pesky dark marks you get when your partner spends too much time nuzzling your neck have a cuter name in Britain: love bites. The term acts as a delightful replacement for “hickey,” as long as you eliminate the image of blood-sucking mosquitos from your mind.
6. Snog (v.): to kiss passionately
Speaking of snogging, let’s discuss the word snog for a second, because I simply don’t understand how a word so similar-sounding to “log” and “hog” serves as an acceptable replacement for “kiss.” Snog is the final nail in the “disgusting alternatives to kissing” coffin, along with “sucking face” and “smooching.” Just because they say it in Harry Potter does not make it okay, people.
7. Canoodle (v.): to cuddle and kiss
On the opposite end of the spectrum, canoodle is a cheery, more innocent way to describe kissing, especially because there’s cuddling involved. If your grandma can use it without making you uncomfortable, than it gets an A in my book. (I mean, “Have you two kids been canoodling?” sounds significantly better than “Have you two been macking?” when it comes from your grandma’s mouth.)
8. Galoche (n.): French kiss
In 2013, France finally settled on a word to describe the French kiss that didn’t involved long-winded explanations about tongues and saliva: galoche. Though the original term “French kiss” derives from soldiers returning home from World War I (onlookers would notice soldiers passionately kissing their wives and say “it must be a French thing”), the country did not have an official word for it in the dictionary until 2013.
What are your favorite or least favorite words related to kissing?
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