September 24, 2015

Dirty Etymology: 69

69 is my number. I mean, it belongs to me in so many ways. The amount of items in my cart (any cart, choose a cart) often rings up to $69. I'll have 69 miles left in my gas tank. My change purse will hold assorted coins that total to 69.

I don't want to take credit if I'm wrong—but I believe "Bondage on a Budget" was the first erotic collection to contain 69 stories. (Right now, the title is down. I'm polishing up the book for a re-release for its 20th anniversary. No, really.) I also collected 69 stories for Down & Dirty, 69 (oh wait, it has 70), and a handful of other anthologies.

Yes, 69, it's everywhere I want to be.

But where did the term come from? Seems pretty obvious. Right? Look at those saucy numbers. They're licking each other up and down, right and left. But who first gave the position that name? Well... let's find out together!

My first stop? Wiki. Wiki let me know that 69 was the cardinal number between 68 and 70. Now, I haven't imbibed much java yet, but I will let you know I am at least *that* good at math. Wiki then explained it was a sex position in which both partners give each other oral at the same time.

Another site helpfully explained that the circles represented the heads and the ends of the digits equalled the feet. This site did provide awesome synonyms: double-header, flip-flop, fork and spoon, loop-de-loop, and vice versa (my favorite).

(Randomly, my search led me to a page that explained "robot" was first used to denote a "fictional humanoid" in 1921.) And then I found quite a few articles on hippies—which I realized was because I was typing in "69" and "history." And 1969 was a banner year for hippies.

Now, suddenly, I landed on "irrumatio," which is a totally new term to me. Dating to the Greek (those Greek!) this term is the act of thrusting the penis into the mouth or throat, between the legs, breasts, or feet... of two partners. Yum!

Here is my search string: 69 • etymology • first use in literature.

The list of terms that come up for me: Robot, Cunt, Fuck, Paganus, Paul and the Faithfulness of God. So I add in "sex act" to my search and now:

Homosexuality, Gender, Cunt and "Where did the 'trick' in the phrase 'turning tricks' come from?"

Fun aside: Now, I have the song, "Who Put the Bop in the Bop Shoo Bop?" in my head.

Ah... I have found something. The French name is soixante-neuf! Whore's Catechisms (France, 1790) seems to be the first mention of the soixante-neuf.

However, there are images of sixty-nine positions dating to ancient Greece *and* the Kama Sutra has a mention of the position, with the alternate title: "congress of a crow."

Although the trajectory was different from my other etymologies, I still enjoyed the trip. I hope you did, as well.

Get out that bar of soap. Here are some of my previous forays into dirty words:

• douchebag
• dick
• tramp
• snatch


P.S. Here's something amusing. Once you know the title Whore's Catechisms, all sorts of 69-related articles slip into view!


HBIC said...

Well, I enjoyed the trip and appreciate the related links. I love a good etymology lesson especially if it involves sexy things.

Alison Tyler said...

I'm so glad you liked my piece on 69-ing. Thank you for taking the time to comment!