The Anatomy of Dirty Words

(Kevin I. Slaughter | cited edition, 2nd Printing 1968)

Author: Edward Sagarin

Edition Cited in The Compleat Witch

Publisher: Lyle Stuart
City: New York
Year: 1962

Binding: Hardback
Size: 6.25″ x 9.25″


Back Cover Copy
(from cited edition, second printing, 1968)

“An unusually sane, sensible, and scholarly treatise on verbal obscenity. This book should be required reading for those who keep needlessly upsetting themselves when they encounter so-called dirty language.”

—Albert Ellis, Ph.D.
Author of Sex Without Guilt, The American Sexual Tragedy, and other works

“It seems to me that this work is a valuable contribution to the field of language taboos, both from the linguistic and the sociological viewpoint. It explores not merely words and their origin, but also the individual and collective mental attitudes that underlie these words, their use and their prohibition. Above all, Edward Sagarin’s attitude toward the problem is a Allman and humane one. He voices a plea, not for the indiscriminate use of words which are regarded as being on an obscene and objectionable level, but for a revision in the frame of mind underlying the popular concept in which those ,words are held, along with the activities of which they are a linguistic token.
“Whether or not his view is accepted by society as at present constituted, he has at least had the courage to face the problem and give it a frank and fearless discussion.”

—Mario Pei
Author of The Story of Languages


Inside Flap Copy
(from cited edition, second printing, 1968)
   The forbidden words of the English language, once unmentionable, unspeakable, unprintable, have in recent years become mentioned with considerable frequency, spoken with utter abandon, and have even found their way into the world of print. But just what is the significance of the widespread use of these words? Is this a sign of the relaxation of the once rigid and puritanical attitudes toward sex and other biological functions?
   In a penetrating analysis, Edward Sagarin examines the manner in which dirty words are used in the English language, and with irrefutable evidence and numerous examples he shows how all obscene words are today being used in two entirely different ways. First there is the literal meaning: biological, pertaining to sex, excretion, and the body; second, there are the figurative meanings, that always carry a negative connotation.
   How is it, the author asks, that the most common words to describe sexual union also signify that a person has obtained a raw deal? How is it that an individual is so clearly insulted if he is equated with the male sexual organ? How is it that, in dirty words, to be filled with feces also means to be a liar, or that an expletive of dismay is appropriated from the synonym for testicles?
   With scholarship and wit, the author presents the evidence of this dual usage of forbidden words and shows, its significance for modern society. He utilizes, on the one hand, material which he gathered from observation, from listening, and from discussions with young people and old from many economic and social areas; and on the other, he has delved into the literature of anthropology and linguistics, has examined unpublished manuscripts, and utilizes the most modern theory of the relationship between language and social reality.
   To our knowledge, this is the first book-length study of obscene language that has ever been written; one that the reader will not put down until he has finished, and one he will not forget for a long time thereafter.


Author Bio
(from cited edition, second printing, 1968)

Edward Sagarin has had a career in perfume and cosmetic chemistry. During that time he wrote and edited several important books in the field. He returned to school under a program initiated by the Ford Foundation. At Brooklyn College, he studied philosophy and sociology, obtained his bachelor’s degree, and is presently a graduate student at that school where he is studying for an advanced degree is sociology. He has written in the past on race relations and on sex and was one of the contributors to The Encyclopedia of Sexual Behavior, edited by Drs. Ellis and Abarbanal.

Table of Contents
(from cited edition, second printing, 1968)

Introduction, by Allen Walker Read 9
Acknowledgments 13
1. Taboos Without Totems 17
2. The Handwriting on the Wall 43
3. The Policy of the Big Stick 79
4. Sticks and Stones Will Break My Bones 105
5. Euphemist, What’s the Good Word? 113
6. Luv Is a Three-Letter Word 121
7. Linguistics: Erotica and Curiosa 145
8. In the Beginning There Was a Seed 153
9. To the Victors Belong the Soiled 159 
Footnotes, Elaborations, and Explanations 175
Bibliography and References 187
General Index 203
Index of Words and Phrases 209

Online Resources GoodReads Google Books LibraryThing
OpenLibrary Project Gutenberg Wikipedia WorldCat

(Kevin I. Slaughter | cited edition, 2nd Printing 1968) 

Year: 1962 (second printing, 1968)
Publisher: Lyle Stuart
Pages: 220
Binding: hardback with dustjacket
Size: 6.25″ x 9.25″
Cover Price: (clipped)
LoC: 62-13866
Notes: Introduction by Professor Allen Walker Read, Columbia University


Year: 1962 
Publisher: Carol Publishing Group
Cover Price:


Year: 1969
Publisher: Paperback Library; New York
Cover Price:
Additional Photos


Misc. Quotes

“The search for euphemy by modern man is evidently not satisfied by speaking of the bathroom when one means the toilet.  Otherwise civilized men and women, almost as if they are mocking themselves (as indeed they may be doing), are now heard to say that they are going to the little boy’s room or the little girl’s room.  Still others say: I have to see a man about a dog.  To save us from this fate, there are men’s rooms, ladies’ rooms, washrooms, rest rooms, and powder rooms, and in England there are cloak rooms, all available for those who find the toilet too horrible to mention and who would rather die of constipation than go to the shithouse.

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