• trollop •
trahl-êp • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A slovenly, messy, unkempt woman. 2. A woman of loose moral character.
Notes: It might be hard to call today's Good Word a 'good' word but it is interesting in that it represents a large pool of terms for women of loose morals, including harlot, strumpet, tart, tramp, slut, floozy, to mention just the mentionables. The list of words referring to males of loose morals is much smaller, e.g. philanderer, womanizer, gigolo, lady's man, and less negative—in fact, ladies' man is all but positive. While we cannot change attitudes by changing vocabulary, our vocabulary does, in fact, provide compelling evidence of our attitudes over the course of time.
In Play: This word today is used mostly as an insult for someone we dislike (or secretly envy): "That trollop, Gladys Boise, has been seeing the boss a lot lately; I'll bet she gets a promotion soon." Even though most of us avoid trollops, others admit to the enjoyment of curling up in bed with a good Trollope now and then (Barchester Towers is my favorite).
Word History: Today's rather shady word is based on the verb troll, which originally meant "to ramble, to wander about with no particular destination". This word was borrowed from French, which borrowed it from an ancestor of German trollen "to toddle". The group [op] was then added to trol- by analogy with words like gallop and wallop, since [op] is not a suffix in English. (Thanks and a tip of Dr. Goodword's hat to Margie Sved, our favorite psychiatrist, for suggesting today's Good if slightly tarnished Word.)