Idle musing

Floozie and friends

Reflecting on the origin of “floozie”, I find that the spelling ”floozy” is more common in the US. According to one etymological source on the net, it was perhaps a variation of flossy “fancy, frilly” (1890s slang), with the notion of “fluffiness.” The c. 1700 “Dictionary of the Canting Crew” defines Florence as a slang word for “a Wench that is touz’d and ruffled.”

Synonyms are floozie, hooker, hustler, slattern, street girl, streetwalker. type of bawd, cocotte, cyprian, fancy woman, harlot, lady of pleasure, prostitute, sporting lady, tart, whore, woman of the street, working girl.

Cyprian caught my attention and I thought first of St Cyprian (c 210-258 AD, renowned writer of Western Christianity until Jerome and Augustine, He doesn’t seem much of a man for floozies unless, like Jerome, he spent his Christian years repenting youthful joie de vivre.

The connection, however, is not to Cyprian but to the island of Cyprus, birthplace of Aphrodite, the Greek goddess associated with love, lust, beauty, pleasure, passion, procreation, and as her syncretized Roman goddess counterpart Venus, desire, sex, fertility, prosperity, and victory.

Aphrodite even has a rock there near Paphos although the locals also call it Petra tou Romiou (the stone of the Romans), allegedly thrown there by the Roman defender of the island, Digenis Acrita, to scare off the Saracen attackers. Unclear how Aphrodite gets into the picture.

The other terms were more run of the mill although “bawd” from Middle English bawde, from Old French baud, bold, lively, jolly, gay sounds as if it was once rather fun but has become rackety with time.

Harlot has waltzed from sex to sex originally in French indicating a “young man, knave, vagabond”, later “lecherous men or woman”

And cocotte is apparently early 20th century French from cocasse, a kind of pot from Latin cucuma cooking vessel.

In my attempts to extract the details of Aphrodite’s rock from tourist pics, I find I have deleted my notes on sources but much of this material is from Wikipedia.

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