etymology - How did the word "beaver" come to be associated with vagina?

25
2014-04
  • Questioner

    What is the etymology of the word beaver as it relates to a woman's vagina?

  • Answers
  • HaL

    Etymology Online offers that beaver in the gynecological sense is British slang dating from 1927, transferred from earlier meaning "a bearded man" (1910), or from the appearance of split beaver pelts.

  • FumbleFingers

    It's almost certainly just the hairiness of both. Probably originally more associated with pubic hair anyway, which is why you now find split beaver used at an even lower level.

  • Lori

    In colonial times it was thought that prostitutes spread veneral diseases through contact with their pubic area, so the women were made "bald" in that area for health reasons. However, their clients did not like that look and business began to suffer. Therefore, pubic wigs, called merkins, were manufactured for the prostitutes. These merkins were made out of beaver pelts. Hence the term beaver. Learned this on a historical tour of Philadelphia.

  • Brian Hooper

    Green's Dictionary of Slang concurs with HaL's answer, and in addition offers a limerick, which it dates from 1927...

    There was a young lady named Eva
    Who went to the ball as Godiva,
    But a change in the lights,
    Showed a tear in her tights,
    And a low fellow present yelled "Beaver"
    

  • Related Question

    etymology - How did the slang meaning of "flog" come about?
  • Andy F

    I've searched multiple dictionaries and Etymonline but the only origin for "flog" that I can find is:

    1670s, slang, perhaps a schoolboy shortening of L. flagellare "flagellate."

    This clearly relates to its proper meaning, to whip or beat.

    However, in (British, and perhaps other) slang, the verb "to flog" has come to mean "to sell" with an implication being that something being flogged is being sold quickly or cheaply.

    The meaning is confirmed in several dictionaries, but I am at a loss as to why the meaning has arisen. And so I turn to you.

    -Update-

    I've not managed to find any further links between flogging and selling, which has led me to consider this possibility: Is it possible that the two meanings are unrelated? I had made the assumption that the "selling" variant was somehow derived from the same word which means "to whip or beat", but perhaps it's not.

    Judging by the demographic from which the word appears to come from (first referenced by authors from around London), and given that its original meaning implied the illicit sale of goods, perhaps "to flog something" (in the sense of selling it) is a form of contrived rhyming slang.

    Could anyone back this up?


  • Related Answers
  • Colin Fine

    The OED says

    c. slang (orig. Mil.). To sell or offer for sale, orig. illicitly.

    with examples from 1919; but it doesn't give a reason for that meaning.