Friday, March 25, 2016


Doug from Traverse City asked about the word raunchy. Originally, it meant sloppy and unkempt. It then came to mean bawdy and off-color. Most dictionaries declare that its origin is unknown. It first shows up in print in the 1930s, and it may have been Army-Air Corps slang—a reference to an improperly worn or cared-for uniform.

The word has a number of interesting synonyms and near-synonyms, a testimony to a sophomoric tendency to tell off-color jokes.

·    bawdy:  < Old French baud, licentious
·    lascivious: < Latin lascivia, licentious
·    obscene: < Latin obscenus, lewd
·    scatological: < Greek root skat-, dung
·    risqué: < French risqué, unsuitable
·    salacious: < Latin salax, lustful, “fond of leaping upon”
·    ribald: < Old French riber, to indulge in pleasure
·    licentious: < Latin licentia, license, in the sense of excessive permissiveness

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