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FISHWIFE

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FISHWIFE

Postby Dr. Goodword » Sat Oct 08, 2005 11:31 pm

• fishwife •

Pronunciation: fish-waif • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: No, even if you married a cold fish, you are not a fishwife. You are, however, if you are 1. a woman who sells fish or 2. a woman who uses coarse, vulgar language.

Notes: The plural of this Good Word is 'semiregular': fishwives. It is regular because, like similar nouns, life : lives, hoof : hooves, the [f] becomes [v] in the plural. The nouns that participate in this rule, all do so in the same, consistent, hence regular, way. However, not all nouns that end on [f] change it to [v] in the plural (fife : fifes, roof : roofs), so the plural of this word is regular and irregular at the same time.

In Play: Back in the days of Billingsgate, women who sold fish acquired the reputation of using abusive language. I suppose smelling fish all day could have that affect on on a woman. In fact, women who sell fish are not called fishwives anymore but the reputation of their name carries forward: "When I told her that her son would be working for mine someday, she turned and left, swearing like a fishwife."

Word History: The historical question raised by this Good Word is, why did female fish-peddlars have to be married? In fact, they didn't. In Old English, wif meant simply "woman". Woman, in fact, derives from Old English wifman "a woman person" (as opposed to a wæpen-man "weapon person" = a man). So, the original meaning of fishwife was simply "fish woman". (Today's Good Word comes from a woman person by the name of Rachel Keller, otherwise known as Pooky Zoo in the Alpha Agora.)
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Re: FISHWIFE

Postby frank » Sun Oct 09, 2005 6:16 am

Dr. Goodword wrote:• fishwife •
Meaning: No, even if you married a cold fish, you are not a fishwife. You are, however, if you are 1. a woman who sells fish or 2. a woman who uses coarse, vulgar language.


So lovely to see that this word also exists in English. In Dutch, we have the same word (viswijf), but the meaning is slightly different, viz. a woman (well, actually any person, m/f) who talks too much and too loud, so not necessarily using coarse and vulgar language.

In Standard Dutch, wijf isn't a nice word in itself, it means something as '(old) hag', though in the Flemish coastal dialects 'wuve' (<wijf) it's the 'normal' word for 'woman/wife'.

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Postby Flaminius » Sun Oct 09, 2005 11:02 am

Negative connotations of wife seem to be very old....
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Re: FISHWIFE

Postby KatyBr » Sun Oct 09, 2005 3:25 pm

frank wrote:In Standard Dutch, wijf isn't a nice word in itself, it means something as '(old) hag', though in the Flemish coastal dialects 'wuve' (<wijf) it's the 'normal' word for 'woman/wife'.

Frank

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Postby M. Henri Day » Sun Oct 09, 2005 4:06 pm

Flaminius wrote:Negative connotations of wife seem to be very old....


Given that the battle of the sexes has been going on for a very long time, and that until recently, most of those holding the pen or the stylus have been men, it is perhaps not terribly surprising that the other side, particularly its mature component with a mind of its own, has gotten a bad press....

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Re: FISHWIFE

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sun May 26, 2013 9:20 pm

Been rambling in the old stuff again and enjoyed the word and discussion, so I brought it up for the current viewers to view.
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Re: FISHWIFE

Postby Philip Hudson » Mon May 27, 2013 11:24 pm

Fishwife reminds me of fishmonger. Molly Malone from the "National Song of Dublin" was a fishmonger and no doubt also a fishwife, unmarried though she was. In England the word “monger” is used to designate a dealer in some commodity. It has no baggage weighing it down as far as I can see. Why is the word used only in a pejorative sense in the U. S. A. In my childhood reading, when I first came upon the word ironmonger, I wondered what so evil about selling iron.
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Re: monger

Postby Audiendus » Tue May 28, 2013 6:27 pm

In England, "monger" may be neutral or pejorative, depending on context.

"Fishmonger" and "ironmonger" are OK, but "warmonger", "gossipmonger" and "scandalmonger" are definitely bad.
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Re: FISHWIFE

Postby Slava » Tue May 28, 2013 6:37 pm

A missing pejorative one: fear-monger.
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Re: FISHWIFE

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu May 30, 2013 11:41 am

Hatemonger. Used sporadically when speaking of racism.
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Re: FISHWIFE

Postby Slava » Thu May 30, 2013 12:46 pm

LukeJavan8 wrote:Hatemonger. Used sporadically when speaking of racism.
Homosexuality, too.
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Re: FISHWIFE

Postby LukeJavan8 » Thu May 30, 2013 1:04 pm

True, there. Homophobia is rampant. As are those
who see sex crimes around every corner, with
skeletons well hidden in their closets.
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