6 Everyday Words With Disturbing Alternate Meanings


So the whole news world was up in arms recently because of this newscast referring to Barack and Michelle Obama "fisting" each other in the White House, the speaker blissfully unaware of the unsettling slang definition of the term.

And while we can all laugh at that lady and her obliviousness, the truth is there are all sorts of everyday words that, in the right crowd, will draw the same muffled laughter as the fisting gaffe up there. Such as...


You Know It As:

A small, quaint house favored by the idle, rich, hobbits and humans in Warcraft.

But It Can Also Be:

A public urinal that is used for homosexual intercourse, as well as the arrangement of some.

"I think my favorite part of pissing is that we get to have sex with each other afterwards.

Wait, What?

"Cottaging" has a rich and storied history, dating back to the turn of the 20th century. At that time, "cottage" was just a euphemism for a public lavatory, due to the overwhelming similarity of comfortable out-of-town lodgings to cramped, piss-stained cubicles.

Over the next few years however, the homosexual community started using cottages for illicit encounters with such regularity that by 1920 the definition of the euphemism had been amended to include the gay stuff. Both the word and the practice are still active today, and recently enjoyed a brief renaissance following the arrest of U.S. senator Larry Craig, who we here at Cracked salute for his dedication to lexographical preservation.

How To Use It In A Sentence:

"So Vince, Todd, Blake and I were all thinking about getting a cottage together. It'll be a tight fit, but I'm sure we can all squeeze in somehow."

Russian and Italian

You Know Them As:

Languages favored by Communist dictators and wacky pasta chefs, respectively.

But They Can Also Be:

The acts of rubbing your penis between breasts and ass-cheeks, respectively.

Wait, What?

You have America's thriving sex industry to thank for these two little gems; which are still in full, throbbing use today. You see, escorts, when placing ads in the newspaper, have developed little abbreviations for the "services" they offer, mostly to save on space and moral outrage. A woman who prints an ad saying that she offers "Bare-Back Blowjob to Completion, No Quitting, No Spitting," would run into all sorts of trouble, but one offering "BBBTCNQNS" will, at most, run afoul of a spellchecker.

Among these unassuming jumbles of capital letters are the "languages spoken." It all started with French, which was used to mean "oral sex." Not too hard to figure out, right? It was soon followed by Greek, which meant "anal sex." Again, not exactly a stretch for anyone even remotely familiar with ancient Greek recreational pastimes.

Then, however, we come to Russian and Italian. We honestly don't know what we're supposed to think here. Are Italians indecisive about anal sex? Are babushka women especially agile? Do we even want to think about this anymore?


How To Use Them In A Sentence:

"Can you believe Grandma MacTaggart speaks Russian and Italian? And at her age, too!"


You Know It As:

A staple animal feed, a visually unappealing breakfast dish and the first thing you think of when Quakers are mentioned.

No, that's with an "e." "Oates."

But It Can Also Be:

A merciless, retributive beating.

Wait, What?

This one had its start in mid-18th century rural England, where the farmers had apparently just discovered irony in its most rudimentary form. We like to imagine its first usage going a little something like this:

FARMER JOHN: Oi, Farmer William!
FARMER WILLIAM: What's all this then, Farmer John?
FARMER JOHN: This 'ere 'orse won't move unless I give 'im extra oats!
FARMER WILLIAM: (Thinking for a second) 'E wants oats, does 'e? I'll give 'im 'is oats! (FARMER WILLIAM begins furiously whipping FARMER JOHN'S horse.)
FARMER JOHN: Cor, that's bloody brilliant!
FARMER WILLIAM: Now, let's go drink warm beer and eat spotted dick!

By the early 19th century, "giving someone their oats" had caught on outside of rural areas as a way of stealthily implying that you were going to beat the hell out of someone who had wronged you. At some point the term got changed to "oatmeal," presumably because cereal grains are infinitely more menacing when they've been mushed up and heated.

How To Use It In A Sentence:

"My kids are real picky eaters, so I figured that after coming home from the bar tonight I'd give 'em some oatmeal."


You Know It As:

A plentiful ore, a handy device for smoothing out creases and the second album from Finnish heavy metal gods Ensiferum.

But It Can Also Be:

A male homosexual, usually a prostitute.

Wait, What?

You have Cockney rhyming slang to thank for this bewildering bit of etymology. If you're not familiar with the world of Cockney rhyming slang, basically it's just coming up with a slang term for something purely because it rhymed with it. So you used to hear people call money "bread" because money rhymes with "bread and honey." Yes, it's retarded.

Retardedly delicious!

So with "iron," first there was the colloquial term for prostitute, which was "horse." This was eventually expanded to become "horse's hoof," because of... the sexiness inherent to horse's feet? Then there came the Cockney euphemism for a male homosexual, "poof," which astute Cracked readers will recognize as rhyming with "hoof."

Both slang terms were then snatched up by the Cockney version into the new term "iron hoof," as in "horseshoe." This was finally shortened to "iron," because Cockney rhyming slang was invented for the sole purpose of making it impossible to tell what someone is talking about.

What the hell is "Visa"?

How To Use It In A Sentence:

"My pants were bunching up around the crotch, but after a few hours with an iron they were all straightened out."


You Know It As:

The best part of any Die Hard movie, and the second largest export from the Middle East.

But It Can Also Be:

The act of childbirth.

Wait, What?

Another English artifact, this cheerful euphemism for the miracle of life gained popularity with Great Britain's lower classes around the last half of the 19th century, dying out some 60 years later. You can't really blame British commoners for trying to jazz up the nerve-wracking (and utterly terrifying) process of producing another human being. We just sort of wish that they had picked a word that conjured up fewer cringe-inducing images of hospital walls splattered by baby components.

Of course, now that we think about it, the term does have a certain appeal. After all, how would you rather imagine your child being brought into this world? Bloody and squalling after a painful, multi-hour process; or leaping out of the womb at the very last moment, being propelled into the doctor's arms by a gout of flame issuing from the proud mother's vagina? That's what we thought.

How To Use It In A Sentence:

"Bob's wife was in a massive explosion yesterday, poor guy."

Attic, Bunny, Fiddle, Leather, Magnet, Money, Mushroom, Pancake, Purse, Quarry, Shell and Valve

You Know Them As:

A dozen unrelated items, completely lacking in any significant likeness or common linking thread.

But They Can Also Be:

Vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina, vagina and vagina.

Wait, What?

These are honestly from all over, and it's doubtful that any of them ever saw more than a decade of usage, if that. Some are as recent as the turn of the last century, others go all the way back to the 1600s, but the one commonality is that they all represent both creative bankruptcy and depressing levels of horniness on the part of their inventors.

We're pretty certain that none of these were intended as pick-up lines; it's pretty hard to imagine even the most desperate of old-timey women being charmed into bed by an amateur poet promising to "mine the hell out of her quarry," or "flip the dickens out of her pancake."

"Come on, how 'bout you let me rummage around in your purse?"

We'd rather picture that same poet taking a leisurely stroll through town, chosing objects at random and saying to himself, "now that looks exactly like something I would stick my cock in" over and over again.

How To Use Them In A Sentence:

"I just finished sticking my penis repeatedly into your attic, bunny, fiddle, leather, magnet, money, pancake, purse, quarry, shell and valve! Now I need a shower."

When not writing for Cracked, Malcolm also writes for The Last Gaffe.

And get ready to swear off some more words after checking out 8 Racist Words You Use Every Day. Or find out about some people who made it into the dictionary for all the wrong reasons, in 8 People Who Inspired Words (For Embarrassing Reasons).

And visit Cracked.com's Top Picks which may or may not be slang for our wangs.

Scroll down for the next article


Forgot Password?