10 Slang Terms for Hooking Up and Their Origins

Have you ever wondered where certain expressions come from? Me too, which is why cliches and figures of speech have become a hobby of mine. Well, since it’s springtime, traditionally a time for romance, why not have a look at some expressions for getting together (wink-wink)? Great! Here’s a list of 10 slang terms for “hooking up”, and their origins.

  1. Discussing Uganda – This one is credited to the British magazine Private Eye, a satirical publication that has a tradition of coining such euphemisms. It stems from an incident at a party where a female journalist used the term to explain her absence during a brief sexual rendezvous upstairs, reportedly at the time when Idi Amin and his Ugandan regime predominated the news.
  2. Friends With Benefits – A relationship wherein the partners are not romantically involved, and who would characterize their relationship essentially as a friendship, which includes consensual but non-committal sex ( the “benefits” part). The earliest reference of the phrase in this context that I could find is in the 1996 Alanis Morissette song, Head Over Feet.
  3. Starter Marriage – A term referring to a marital hook-up, meaning a first marriage of short duration and with no children. It’s a play on the expression “starter home” whose popularity is credited to a book by Pamela Paul, The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony.
  4. To Know in the Biblical Sense – A euphemism for having sexual relations. Taken, as the term implies, from the Bible, as in Genesis 4:1 -”And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived…”
  5. Making the Beast with Two Backs – Another sexual euphemism, this one from Shakespeare’s Othello, act 1, scene 1: Iago: I am one, sir, that comes to tell you your daughter and the Moor are now making the beast with two backs.
  6. Tying the Knot –  Marriage has long been associated with such metaphorical imagery of binding ties or knots. This phrase is said to have originated with a Roman custom where the bride wore a girdle which had knots that the groom would need to untie before consummating the union.
  7. Jumping the Broom – In some cultures (Welsh  and Gypsy, for instance), it is a ceremonial tradition for the groom and  bride to literally jump over a broomstick, or a flowering branch of broom (evergreen shrub).
  8. Painting the Town Red – This expression for spending an evening in revelry can be traced to Henry Beresford, the 3rd Marquess of Waterford, who quite literally painted the town of Melton Mowbray red to celebrate a successful fox hunt.
  9. Booty Call – A modern-day reference to a request for casual sex; derived from the sexual term for a woman’s derriere, it means a call made to a prospective partner for the purpose of hooking up in order to have sex, or the act itself.
  10. And, inevitably, we have sexual euphemisms derived from this age of the internet, including a favorite of mine which needs no explanation … Putting YouTube into MySpace.

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