Is Nikki Haley a manizer?

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I don't know, and I have no reason to care. But one of the more bizarre political stories of 2010 has been the series of Republican political operatives claiming to have had sexual relations with Nikki Haley, the leading Republican candidate for governor in South Carolina. (Haley denies the claims, and blames her political rivals for concocting the stories.)

I bring this up only because it's necessary background for a discussion of the second sex-related linguistic innovation to come out of South Carolina politics in the past year. The first, of course, was "hiking the Appalachian trail", which was one of the cover stories that the current S.C. governor, Mark Sanford, offered for a trip to Argentina to visit his mistress.

One of the first sites to flag that expression as an idiom-in-the-making was Talking Points Memo.  And in a recent post at TPM on the Nikki Haley story, Josh Marshall implicitly noted a gap in the word-stock of English, and proposed a way to fill it ("Somethin' in the Water Down There", TPM 6/2/2010):

I'm not sure which would make for a more colorful and entertaining story: Haley exposed as an inveterate … what I guess you'd call, man-izer or the idea that a series of different GOP operatives, each of whom is currently married, conspiring to publicly allege phony affairs with Haley. What say you?

As Josh's pause-signalling dots suggest, there's a lexical lacuna here.  A male politician who is prone to out-of-wedlock hookups would be called a womanizer, but there seems to be no appropriate equivalent for a female. The term slut, for example, has connotations that are entirely inappropriate for a case of this kind. So Josh's attempt to coin manizer is an entirely rational move, though I'm not sure it will catch on.

According to the OED, womanize originally meant "To make a woman of (a man); gen. to render effeminate, to emasculate", or intransitively "To become womanlike; to behave like a woman". The meaning "To consort illicitly with women" didn't arise until the late 19th century, when the "go wenching" sense of womanize developed as an instance of the OED's pattern 1.b. for -ize, "the intrans. sense 'to act some person or character, do or follow some practice'" associated with the root, e.g. agonize, apologize, apostatize, botanize, dogmatize, geologize, philosophize, syllogize, sympathize, theorize.

Thus to botanize is to go around "following some practice" associated with botany ("doing botany") and to womanize is to go around "following some practice" associated with women ("doing women"). This coinage worked in Victorian or Edwardian England (because why else would a man pay attention to women taken as a group?), and once established, it persisted as a useful term for a common concept.

Manize is a bit more problematic, I think. This is partly because of the nature of the stem: -ize, originally Greek, has learned to attach to native words (bastardize, mesmerize, mercerize, bowdlerize, womanize) but as far as I know, all of the reasonably-common roots of -ize words are two or more syllables long.  There may also be some issues associated with man as the pragmatically unmarked category of human — "following some practice associated with men" may not connect quickly enough to sex.

But as powerful women become more and more common, we'll need some word for the inveterate … um, manizers among them, and I'll be rooting for Josh's coinage.

[Update — Silvia Killingsworth notes that

Anthony Lane [independently?] coined the term last week when he wrote his Cinema review of the new Michael Douglas film, “Solitary Man”:

He and Douglas put their scenes together with no more ado than someone making a sandwich, and they leave us with the wry thought that the people the womanizer really loves—the ones he can live with, and die with—are guys. He’s a manizer, and he never even knew it.

That's the same word but not quite the same sense, it seems to me. Still, perhaps it's more evidence that manizer is a coinage whose time has come. (And I guess I should note that the Urban Dictionary has had entries for this coinage since 2004 or so.]


  1. John Lawler said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 11:00 am

    I've often regretted that we linguists can't just linguisticize (it does sound awful, doesn't it?), or some other monolexical verb. Instead we have to "do/study/teach linguistics", which is hopelessly uninformative for 99% of Americans, at least, since the usual response is of course "How many languages do you speak?".

    Manize, by contrast, is easily understandable, after the initial surprise.

  2. Dean said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 11:11 am

    I vaguely recall being taught a rule for this as an example of productive allomorphs in my Intro to Linguistics course…

    I think the rule that worked for most of us was -ize could only attach to unstressed, closed syllables (CLIN-ton-ize), while -ify attaches to the stressed syllables (BUSH-ify, o-BAM-ify).

    But of course MAN-ify doesn't have the intended meaning and, now that I think of it, I can't think of any -ify examples with the meaning cited above.

  3. empty said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 11:18 am

    one example: stylize(d)

    [(myl) An interesting case. Apparently it was originally a calque of German stilisiren, though whether that matters is not clear to me. The final /l/ engenders a separate quasi-syllable for some people, and is often indicated in dictionary pronunciations, e.g. M-W \ˈstī(-ə)-ˌlīz\ .]

  4. Wimbrel said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 11:19 am

    I think the rule that worked for most of us was -ize could only attach to unstressed, closed syllables (CLIN-ton-ize)

    But then, "lionize"?

    [(myl) The second syllable of lion is unstressed and closed…]

  5. Timothy Hankins said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 11:25 am

    Your mention of the historical usage "go wenching" suggests (for me, anyway) of a delightful anachronistic portmanteau: "go menching."

  6. Chris said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 11:25 am

    Josh marshal has been trying to create a new lingo-meme for a while now. His earlier attempt was "ride the swing." I'm not sure manizer will have any better luck. Josh's lingo-instincts are a tad off.

  7. Słowosław said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 11:27 am

    I thought there was already a female equivalent to "womanizer" – namely, "maneater".

    [(myl) A good point, but I'm not sure it quite fits. The core meanings, according to the OED, are "1. A person who eats human flesh, a cannibal"; "2.a. A shark that attacks humans … b. More generally: an animal, esp. a tiger, lion, or leopard, that eats or has a propensity for eating human flesh.". It's not until sense 4. that we get "a. A woman who is regarded as naturally predacious in her search for or treatment of lovers" and "b. A ship's officer who is particularly strict or harsh on his crew".

    So there's a sense of aggression and predation that is missing from womanizer, and would also be inappropriate for a case like the one under discussion.]

  8. Jesse Tseng said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 11:27 am

    The OED contains a few intransitives in -ize with monosyllabic roots (but almost all obs. or arch. or rare): artize, Cretize, fierize (is that a monosyllabic root?), Græcize, Hobbize, Marxize, Scotize, statize, taurize, tourize (not marked as rare or obs.), Turkize, and the analogical/back-formation cognize. Apparently none of these ever meant "go around hooking-up out of wedlock with Scots, bulls, fire, Thomas Hobbes, …" but I guess they could, if we (and/or the contributors to Urban Dictionary) ever felt a need for them to.

  9. fermata said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 11:46 am

    Yeah, no one says "men's lady" either.

  10. jim said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 11:50 am

    But there are other suffixes with equivalent meanings that don't have any problems associating with monosyllabic words. Why not "manifier" or "manicator"?

  11. Russell said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 11:51 am

    Another near-equivalent to "womanizer" is "cougar," but it appears to apply only to what used to be called "women of a certain age," and I'm pretty sure that Nikki Haley falls outside that range.

  12. Leo Petr said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 11:58 am

    Why not just make "philanderer" gender-neutral?

    Its etymology actually makes more sense for a female philanderer than for a male one.

  13. NW said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 12:00 pm

    Or, with a scholar's shudder: a womanderer.

  14. John Lawler said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 12:01 pm

    @Słowosław, myl:

    Rue McClanahan, who was an actress on the 1990s US TV series Golden Girls, just died. Her character on the show (which featured 4 elderly women who lived together) was always finding new men to "date". She is described in a number of obituaries as having played   [man eater|maneater|man-eater] Blanche Deveraux on the show. Aggression or predation? Not so much, imo.

  15. Bob said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 12:08 pm

    When I saw the word in the title, I initially misread it as "manzier", the bra for a man that George Costanza's father designed on Seinfeld (though I believe that's spelled "manzierre").

  16. Jack Lynch said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 12:18 pm

    The coinage is clever, though I agree it's unlikely to catch on. First, the double standards in social mores mean we have comparatively few examples of the type in the public eye. Second, the real problem with adding the -izer suffix to a monosyllabic root, especially one as simple as "man," is that the stress pattern isn't obvious. I first read "manizer" in the title with the same stress pattern as "conifer" — accent on the first syllable, schwa on the second — and only after I got the context did I realize it was patterned on "womanizer."

    And I sympathize with John Lawler's wish for a good verb for what linguists do, though that's the case with many areas of scholarly inquiry: historians don't historicize, physicists don't physicize, and so on. Those of us in English departments don't even have a good one-word noun: we can be "literary critics," perhaps, but lack the one-word punch of linguists, historians, biologists, sociologists, &c. ("Critic," without a qualifier, is probably too broad to be useful.)

  17. Ian Preston said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 12:26 pm

    "Man-chaser" and "woman-chaser" get Google hits of broadly similar orders of magnitude.

  18. eye5600 said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 12:33 pm

    I believe Safire discussed the possibilities and decided "maneater" was the best of the terms already in use.

  19. mollymooly said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

    @Leo Petr:

    Why not just make "philanderer" gender-neutral?

    I would prefer "philanderess" –or "philandress"–, which is attested in some quality literature. However, I have a suspicion that "womanizer" is more likely than "philanderer" to be applicable to a single man as opposed to an adulterer, in which case one might by analogy be a "manizer" without being a "philanderess".

  20. Ellen K. said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 1:49 pm

    Seems to me the problem with -izer with a one-syllable root is it requires compound stress (that is, like a compound noun) but it's a compound. Doable, but odd and a little unnatural. Still, I think the word will continue to be recreated from time to time when it fits. (And, of course, implicit with the use of the word "recreate", I don't expect it to become a common, familiar word.)

  21. 4ndyman said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 2:03 pm

    The current sense of philander(er) seems backward to me anyway, considering its etymological root means "love of man," not "love of women." We do have the yang of philogyny to the yin of philandery (is that the right word?). So if we keep the current sense of philanderer, then maybe we should use philogyner or philogyness or philogynatrix for the women? (Or maybe just philogyne…)

  22. Nathan Myers said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 2:29 pm

    I don't know what to call what linguists do, but it bugs me that there is no distinction between inveterate learners of languages, and people who elucidate principles of linguistics. I'm tempted (and occasionally worse) to write of "linguisticists". So: "linguisticizers"? I would prefer something more to the point, but "lingualuminators" sounds like people with (usefully) glowing tongues.

  23. Mr Fnortner said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 2:42 pm

    She could be manic or maniacal, a maniac. Or perhaps a manipulator.

  24. marie-lucie said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 2:45 pm

    Some people differentiate "polyglots" from "linguisticians" (I heard the latter from a British prof, but I didn't like the sound of it).

  25. Matthew said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 2:47 pm

    @Nathan –

    I like the term "languists" to refer to linguists who learn lots of languages (and intend only positive connotations with the term), with "linguists" kept for those who focus on principle-elucidation.

    Though of course, a languist may elucidate principles, and a linguist may take more than one language as an object of study.

  26. Steve Harris said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 2:55 pm


    (As a mathematician, I've always been vaguely annoyed/puzzled by "polymath". Shouldn't that mean someone who does lots of kinds of math? Well, no, it doesn't…)

  27. Lazar said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 2:57 pm

    Would the closest existing word be "nymphomaniac"?

  28. D.O. said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

    When I read the title of the post, I thought it will discuss some Yiddishism…

  29. Jan Freeman said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

    Does "baptize" count as a fairly common verb (with one-syllable root)? It may be the oldest -ize verb in English, according to the OED (1297).

  30. Ray Girvan said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 3:18 pm

    There is "mollock". If it's not unisex already, how about inverting it to "wollock"?

  31. Robert T McQuaid said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 3:35 pm

    Ask a woman who the most attractive man is and a common answer is: "The man in charge". This fact allows men in positions of power and authority to use their status to seduce women. But when asked about the most attractive woman, men are rarely mention the woman in charge, leaving women ordinarily unable to use their status for seduction. So manizer, or equivalent, may be an unnecessary word for purely behavioral reasons.

  32. Mr Punch said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 3:40 pm

    @Lazar –

    "Nymphomaniac" is in the mix, but it's a psychiatric term that involves, well, a mania. The male equivalent, less clinical, is I believe "satyr," which might be defined as "compulsive womanizer" — again there's an implication of unhealthiness that goes beyond what we're looking for.

  33. Aaron Toivo said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 5:33 pm

    I just can't cheer for manizer. The clash of two adjacent stressed syllables in the same word is just too off-putting for me to like the it, no matter how fine a job it does filling a semantic lacuna. It's like both stresses are straining and bulging against a container too small to hold them both.

  34. Rick Bryan said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 6:58 pm

    @4ndyman: the yang of philogyny…

    Some might say that ontonomy recapitulates philogyny.

    (Oh! Did I type that out loud?)

  35. Eric said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 7:06 pm

    The first association I made to "manize" was my various friends who pronounce "mayonnaise" as, roughly, "mannaise". It took me a minute to get away from "manizer" being "one who puts mayonnaise on things" and get the connection to "womanizer". It seems to me that a more general problem with a coinage like this is that dropping the "wo-" prefix is not immediately recognizable as a play on an existing word in the same way that adding it is, or at least not to the same extent.

  36. Spectre-7 said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 7:26 pm

    I find the double stressed syllables in manizer uncomfortable as well. I was going to suggest the somewhat sarcastic gentlemanizer, but that just looks like a mess.

  37. John Lawler said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 7:27 pm

    That's what I meant when I said that manize was "easily understandable, after the initial surprise." I, too, grew up pronouncing mayonnaise as ['mæneⁱz], and I had to get past that reading. Then, of course, no problemo.

  38. marie-lucie said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 7:37 pm

    Adding an extra n would solve the problem in written word recognition: mannize, mannizer, on the model of mannish, manned and Manning, for example. But man(n)izer may also sound a little too close to manager.

  39. Doug said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 8:10 pm

    I've heard the term 'manizer' once before, used by a (female) friend in the early 1990s, and in exactly the sense that Josh Marshall has (re-)coined it for. I suspect that for my friend it was an off-the-cuff coinage, though I can't say for sure (I'll have to ask her).

    This seems to me an example of linguistic tendency. I wouldn't be surprised if this word is re-coined regularly as it's an obvious construction and needs no explanation for the listener. But for whatever reasons (demonstrated by the number of people above who have expressed their dislike of it), it simply doesn't gain traction to go on and become a part of our lexicon.

  40. John Lawler said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 8:38 pm


    That's the way it is with every grammatical innovation — if it makes sense (or even if it only seems to make sense), it'll get re-discovered and re-used repeatedly by every generation, no matter how the peevers fulminate.

  41. George said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 9:33 pm

    According to Kager in "Optimality Theory," -ize is a suffix that always carries secondary stress. So, to attach it to 'man' would create a stress clash (in an already stressful situation). So, my vote is for phildandress.

  42. George said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 9:43 pm


    "Does "baptize" count as a fairly common verb (with one-syllable root)? It may be the oldest -ize verb in English, according to the OED (1297)."

    I think this works because -ize is not a suffix attached to *bapt

  43. Jerry Friedman said,

    June 4, 2010 @ 10:30 pm

    @George: I suppose the same applies to "aggrandize"?

    I feel that there's a slang exception to this rule somewhere in my mind, but I'm not coming up with it.

  44. Ellen K. said,

    June 5, 2010 @ 12:15 am

    In my post way above, make that NOT a compound.

  45. ShadowFox said,

    June 5, 2010 @ 2:41 am

    Has anyone bothered to Google the word before posting? It does not appear that way. When I first noticed Josh's post on TPM, I first Googled "man-izer", then emailed some comments around. It seems that not only does Urban Dictionary have 7 entries (the number of entries does not always correspond to the distribution of the term), but there are 227,000 raw hits, with only a handful referring to Marshall's post and a Russian/Jewish/Germanic family name Manizer. The rest are all variations on a theme. There are two distinct classes of entries though. One does tag promiscuous women–not entirely sure whether there is an additional connotation that can be deduced or not. But the second one–predictable, but likely to get a better tongue-hold–refers to gay men, not necessarily promiscuous. In particular, it seems to have been coined on several occasions in reference to surprisingly allegedly gay men. One tagged Clark Gable–"not only womanizer" but "a manizer as well". Clearly 227,000 is not a real number–the number of actual hits is actually only a couple of hundreds, but it is still an indication of significant interest. And it's been in print:

    Vibe, August 1997–"Adela is a gambling manizer."
    New York Magazine, Jan 2, 1989–"He is, in the play, a pediatrician as well as a–what is the counterpart of womanizer? Manizer? — a gay Lothario (that's it!), both of which afford good opportunities for accosting AIDS in the home stretch (the play spans the period from 1965to 1988, something that Miss W. does in the same dutiful way she ticks off all the trends and buzzwords of her time."

    Most of Google Books hits, however, are actually splits of Romanizer or humanizer, but, still, these two are rather strong.

  46. maidhc said,

    June 5, 2010 @ 4:08 am

    Another recent euphemism deriving from current events would be "helping with the luggage".

  47. J. Goard said,

    June 5, 2010 @ 4:53 am

    @myl re: maneater

    So there's a sense of aggression and predation that is missing from womanizer

    Really? For me, something along those lines is definitely present in womanizer. A man is not a womanizer, I think, who has a lot of female partners in a really liberal community where women don't feel sexually reticent or ashamed of one-night-stands. The term implies some sense of "conquering" through manipulative skills.

  48. Private Zydeco said,

    June 5, 2010 @ 6:25 am


  49. Private Zydeco said,

    June 5, 2010 @ 6:34 am

    Sorry, couldn't recollect the word "libertine".

  50. Troy S. said,

    June 5, 2010 @ 8:12 am

    Political correctness would suggest "personizer." That notwithstanding, we may have an easy political parody hit on our hands:

    Girl, don't try to front. Uh-uh, I know just what you are.
    You're one manizer, one man, one manizer…

  51. Robert Cumming said,

    June 5, 2010 @ 10:45 am

    I was about to suggest that the survival of 'manizer' must depend on who gets to record the definitive gender-swap version of Britney Spears 'Womanizer' (would womanizer have been a well-enough known term to neologise without Ms Spears' help?). So far the UK duo Fi & Vi have had a go, but I haven't managed to find an accessible copy on the web.

  52. David L said,

    June 5, 2010 @ 11:52 am

    In the current New Yorker (June 7) there's a review of a new Michael Douglas film in which Anthony Lane says that the main character, although he is portrayed as a womanizer, is fundamentally more comfortable in the company of men, and concludes "He's a manizer, and he never even knew it."

    Not a sexual meaning — the idea is that this is a guy who basically like hanging out with other guys. One more meaning to attach to a word that I hadn't even seen before now.

  53. marie-lucie said,

    June 5, 2010 @ 3:28 pm

    Britney Spears 'Womanizer' (would womanizer have been a well-enough known term to neologise without Ms Spears' help?)

    I am not about to try doing a search, but it seems to me that "womanizer" has been around much longer than Britney Spears. But I am much less familiar with the verb "womanize".

  54. Sharl said,

    June 5, 2010 @ 4:29 pm

    "According to the OED, womanize originally meant …to emasculate"

    "So there's a sense of aggression and predation that is missing from womanizer…"

  55. Kragen Javier Sitaker said,

    June 6, 2010 @ 12:09 am

    I have seen "woman" used specifically in the sense of "a female person who is not a virgin", but that was in some pseudo-archaic English used in a translation of Kristin Lavransdatter I read in 1991. (Well, actually, I didn't even make it all the way through The Wreath.)

    So I had thought that perhaps a "womanizer" was originally someone who went around making maidens into women.

    The OED offers a few definitions of "woman" that have some of that sense:

    3. † a. A lady-love, mistress. Obs. b. A kept mistress, paramour. (Although the quotations they give don't really support a strong sense of this definition.)

    4. A wife.

    c 1450 St. Cuthbert (Surtees) 7041 A night be his woman [cum uxore] he lay. …

    1625 Fletcher Nice Valour II. i. A man can in his lifetime make but one woman, But he can make his fifty Queanes a month.

    † b. The female mate of an animal.

    Woman v. †1.d. To make ‘a woman’ of, deprive of virginity.

    1611 Heywood Golden Age III. 1. G 1 b, I woman'd first Calisto, and made thee A grandfather.

    So, I'm not sure that "female non-virgin human" was ever a widely-understood sense of "woman". It might have been, but the evidence the OED editors dug up for it is pretty scanty. So I conclude that the translators of Kristin Lavransdatter were probably indulging in some creative invention in their attempt to imitate medieval English, and Liberman's proposed etymological origin parallel to "botanize" is at least as likely.

  56. andrew c said,

    June 6, 2010 @ 5:53 am

    I believe the rent-boy usage is 'lifting my luggage' which is agreeably double-entendre-ish and therefore fit for prupose. One could eben say the phrase fits like a glove, but I don't think I want to go there.

  57. Andrew Gray said,

    June 6, 2010 @ 8:48 am

    A couple of earlier uses:

    This film presents Belle as an unfortunate, misunderstood Robin Hood. She was really a greedy, conniving manizer who was only concerned with a thrill-a- minute lifestyle. If the producers had handed the directorial reins over to a filmmaker who could appreciate the drama of historical reality and presented a realistic portrait of Starr rather than a homespun Rockwellesque caricature, then "Belle Starr" would have been a fascinating glimpse into the real West.

    Boston Globe, August 23, 1981.

    "The Pickup Artist" (Fox). A love-'em-and-leave-'em womanizer (Robert Downey) meets his match when he falls for — and is dumped by — a love-'em-and-leave-'em manizer (Molly Ringwald). With Dennis Hopper. Written and directed by James Toback.

    Orange County Register, May 3, 1987.

    Interesting that they're both film reviews – it turns up quoted in a novel review from the late eighties, as well.

    There was a bit of debate in 1987/88 about "manizer" as a counterpart to "womanizer", which seems to be a reaction to the coverage of Gary Hart's exploits – was "womanizer" dusted off for that particular scandal, by any chance?

  58. John Parrish said,

    June 7, 2010 @ 12:45 pm

    The relative naturalness of pronouncing "baptize" and "aggrandize" versus "manize" or, say, "sickize" may have more to do with the nature of the consonant cluster preceding -ize than any morphological, lexical, or semantic consideration. I would put "barfize" and "feltize" in the middle of a scale that has endpoints of "baptize" and"sickize" Is this a mora isue?

  59. John Parrish said,

    June 7, 2010 @ 12:50 pm

    trouser roller

  60. JC said,

    June 7, 2010 @ 8:43 pm

    @Robert T McQuaid:

    But when asked about the most attractive woman, men are rarely mention the woman in charge, leaving women ordinarily unable to use their status for seduction. So manizer, or equivalent, may be an unnecessary word for purely behavioral reasons.

    I think that you have a sort of chicken-and-egg problem here. How would men be attracted to women in power when there weren't that many to begin with? Granted, female politicians, CEOs, or the like are not a recent invention, but there are certainly a lot more of them than there were previously.

    I have a feeling that there will be a need for a word like "manizer" in the near future, if not today. Traditional gender roles are not what they used to be.

  61. Jens Fiederer said,

    June 9, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

    Maybe one could avoid the one-syllable and the unsexed awkwardness BOTH by using "hemanize".

    [(myl) The trouble is, the term "he-man" doesn't seem especially appropriate for either of the two males who have been claiming relationships with Ms. Haley.]

  62. Vocabulinks - Schott's Vocab Blog - said,

    June 9, 2010 @ 6:02 pm

    […] Language Log Mark Liberman considered how likely it is that the term manize, recently employed by journalist Josh Marshall, will catch on: "According to the OED, womanize originally meant 'To make a woman of (a man); gen. to render effeminate, to emasculate,' or intransitively 'To become womanlike; to behave like a woman.' The meaning 'To consort illicitly with women' didn't arise until the late 19th century, when the 'go wenching' sense of womanize developed as an instance of the OED's pattern 1.b. for -ize, 'the intrans. sense "to act some person or character, do or follow some practice"’ associated with the root, e.g. agonize, apologize, apostatize, botanize, dogmatize, geologize, philosophize, syllogize, sympathize, theorize. … […]

  63. tony s said,

    June 10, 2010 @ 10:22 pm

    To be blunt, why not just say 'cockchaser'?

  64. doran said,

    June 10, 2010 @ 10:22 pm


  65. Alan Hayes said,

    June 10, 2010 @ 10:52 pm

    Sorry folks! I first used this term in the early eighties, in Buffalo, New York, to describe a good friend of mine after she had a fling with another friend, a noted womanizer. And, no, I will not reveal their identities!

  66. Scott said,

    June 11, 2010 @ 9:48 am

    Message to Josh Marshall – how can you take credit for inventing something that has already been invented. The online urban slang dictionary cites the word in 2002 (first google hit btw) and, of course, note the movie reviews above.

    [(myl) Message to Scott — JM didn't "take credit for inventing" anything, he just coined a term that turns out to have been independently invented at least three or four times previously (and probably many more than that), and I cited his usage in discussing the semantic gap and the difficulties in finding a suitable term to fill it.]

    The other day, I invented a phrase that I thought was pretty funny, "It takes a village to raise an idiot" (I work in education). Then, I thought to myself, "too obvious" and googled it. Yep, been used already a bunch of times. It's like a lot of things these days, all the original ideas are already taken. That's a phrase I'd like to take credit for, but I bet it's already been used as well.

    [(myl) You should explore the concept of "anticipatory plagiarism", which Robert Merton discusses at length in his wonderful book On the Shoulders of Giants.]

  67. scott said,

    June 14, 2010 @ 9:51 am

    Josh Marshall wrote "I think I might be honored if I was credited with inventing the word for serially sexually questing women."

    Note use of word "credit"

    Note use of word "invent"

    You use the word "coined" – which also means to invent – which means create something new.

    Clearly he is crediting himself with the "coinage" because he is musing over whether it would be seemly or unseemly to have such an honor bestowed upon him – not realizing that word has been used hundreds of times already – his being just the most recent and most relevant as it applies to a timely subject (Haley) and not a teen movie from 1984.

    It's pretty clear that he doesn't realize this.

    "Anticipatory plagiarism" – which to my mind is like trying to claim that someone somehow stole your idea and traveled back time so they could screw you by using it first – doesn't really apply.

    Ideas, theories, phrases, words, etc…can exist and coexist and evolve in multiple minds contemporaneously. They are the nuggets of ore that are mined, processed using additional materials, and minted in the coinage of new thoughts, new ideas, and new products – which then become material for refining, reusing, and building for subsequent invention.

    I think that it is unlikely that much of anything is truly original in its essence – given the scope and variety of human life on this planet, but old ideas can be "mashed up" to create new ideas which then evolve as well in an never ending cycle of accretive creation.

    So, the idea that certain words like "moist" make certain people uncomfortable can be fodder for an academic linguistic quest – or it can be a cartoon illustrating (literally) the same point. The concept of uncomfortable words is not original to either the academic or the cartoonist; however, they are each independently exploring the idea in a different context.

    Defining a word very specifically when it has already been defined and used in exactly the same way (unbeknownst to the benighted "coiner") and claiming invention is just a harmless mistake. A better word would have been "popularize" – as in,

    "I think I might be honored if I was credited with popularizing the word for serially sexually questing women."

    Which would then beg the question of whether the inventor's popularity is such to warrant such a claim.

    Now if Tina Fey used the word – or John Stewart – that would be a different story (even though they would just be reading something that someone else wrote from them – and on and on it goes.

    Coinage, invention, popularize etc…

    see Paris Hilton, "that's hot" – which becomes original to her because she herself is the context for the coinage. (She has a copyright on the phrase).

    Now I'm going to invent a catch phrase, "Hello" Think it will catch on? (that is stolen as well – Kathy Griffin maybe?

    Thanks for replying. Like my Grandpa used to say, "there is nothing new under the sun."

  68. Yorick Wilks said,

    June 15, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

    In the modern history of euphemisms for ("illicit") sexual activity, usually by public figures, the UK satirical magazine Private Eye, must get a credit: its favourite is "having discussions about Uganda" (or some variant on that) and its been running it since at least the 1970s. The phrase even has a Wikipedia entry:
    On the manizers/power-women issue: it was a standard observation in Britain during Mrs. Thatcher's reign that her cabinet ministers would confess to finding her attractive when she shouted at them.

  69. Guest said,

    January 1, 2011 @ 5:48 pm

    Nope, but you can call Nikki Haley a maneater instead, or a even cuckoldress. Why would the media call her a slut for two-timing her husband, although he tolerated it? We Americans are so abusive with women (or wives) who philander, even though women are biologically programmed to philander more often than men.

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