Thursday, April 8, 2010

He is a total douche....

Now I've been home for a while and am no longer living in my very insular little Nepali Linguistics universe, I thought I would try and make an effort to post every Friday-ish on general linguistic topics that tickle my fancy.

This week's has occurred because my sister has taken to using the phrase 'douche canoe' as a term of disparagement, and the other week I was reading a column in the Good Weekend where someone was referred to as a 'douche banjo' (at least I think it was banjo, I'm still trying to track that one down if anyone out there keeps old copies of the paper floating around).

I am more than familiar with the offensive term 'douche bag'. A douche bag is actually an item of medical use - it's the bag on the douche (itself taken from the French for shower) where fluid is kept. The whole get up is to clean out any bodily orifices, although people generally seem fixated on the vagina (as usual).

The Oxford English Dictionary gives its usual useful but dry definition as:

2. (b) U.S. slang, a general term of disparagement, esp. for an unattractive or boring person;

I'm not sure that captures it for me - I tend to use it more for idiots that are trying to punch above their weight and failing miserably, often while drunk. Also, unlike the OED, I'm quite happy to use the word douche in isolation as still mean basically the same thing.

But until a couple of weeks ago, I'd never heard any combination other than douche bag. My unprofessional opinion is that 'douche bag' was picked up as a term of insult, reduced to 'douche', then people forgot that a douche bag was a read piece of medical equipment, and began assuming it was just a random conjunction and added what they felt like.

Does anyone else use douche canoe, or douche banjo? Or are there any other wacky combinations that you use? Also, does your definition of douche differ from mine or the OED?

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