Saturday, December 19, 2009

Pitching Woo

Fred from Petoskey, Michigan, asked about the phrase pitching woo. I haven’t heard that for years. I associate it with earlier, more innocent times. It means courting, advancing your case to a young lady to convince her that she should fall for you, thus insinuating your way into her heart.

Pitch has gone through many meanings in its long career. In this phrase, it means to talk, to recount, to imbed your message. It goes back to the early 18th century. Later, it evolved into selling merchandise by persuasion or promoting a proposal. We see it used this way in sales pitch and pitchman.

Woo has remained fairly static in meaning. Since 1050, it has meant to court a woman, to solicit her love, especially with a view to marriage.

I had suspected that pitching woo was a phrase well on its way out of vogue. Then, while flipping idly through some old copies of Wired Magazine, I came across this:

“For most computer geeks, writing code is easy. But trying to compose an amorous email may cause night sweats. At Germany’s University of Potsdam, Philip von Senftleben teaches IT students the subtle art of pitching woo. [Wired, June 2009, p.44]

Whodathunk?


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