ribaldry – Rib”ald*ry, n. [OE. ribaldrie, ribaudrie, OF. ribalderie, ribauderie.]

  1. The talk of a ribald; low, vulgar language; indecency; obscenity; lewdness; – now chiefly applied to indecent language, but formerly, as by Chaucer, also to indecent acts or conduct.
  2. ribald humor

ribald – Rib”ald, n. & a.[OE. ribald, ribaud, F. ribaud, OF. ribald, ribault, LL. ribaldus, of German origin; cf. OHG hr[imac]pa prostitute.

  1. Noun. A low, vulgar, brutal, foul-mouthed wretch; a lewd fellow.
  2. Noun. The ribalds (aka lechers, harlots, etc.)formed the lowest class of society in the feudal ages; originally travelling mercenary soldiers, serving any master far pay, they afterwards degenerated into mere banditti.
  3. Adj. Low; base; mean; filthy; obscene.
  4. Synon. Bawdiness; bawdry.

Ribaldry is the little black duckling-sister of pornography and erotica. Ribaldry’s primarely aim is usually not to be sexually stimulating, but rather to poke fun at la condition sexuèlle. Nevertheless, it has been frequently a subject of censorship. Ribaldry verges on the territory of satire. It has not been popular in the 20th and 21st Centuries (sofar!) – the current trend being for quick, explicit, straight to the point, no nonsense fast-sex.

Some examples:
Petronius: Cena Trimalchionis
The Golden Ass
Carmina Burana
Geoffrey Chaucer:
“The Miller’s Tale” (Canterbury Tales)
Laurence Sterne:
The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman
Jonathan Swift:
The Lady’s Dressing Room
Mark Twain:
Russ Meyer:

Shakespeare’s Bawdy by Eric Partridge: A glossary of the Bard’s smut, indecency, and innuendo on Goodreads

20120229-185932.jpgEric Partridge was a logolatrist, specialising in ‘bad language’. In this classic work from 1947 he combined his knowledge of Shakespeare & of Elizabethan slang and innuendo, resulting in, as he described it himself , “a literary and psychological essay and a comprehensive glossary”.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s