The ‘Open-(Ahem)’

The polite, socially acceptable name by which it’s currently known is the medlar. But for the best part of 900 years, the fruit was called the “open-arse” – thought to be a reference to the appearance of its own large “calyx” or bottom. The medlar’s aliases abroad were hardly more flattering. In France, it was variously known as “la partie postérieure de ce quadrupède” (the posterior part of this quadruped), “cu d’singe” (monkey’s bottom), “cu d’ane” (donkey’s bottom), and “cul de chien” (dog’s bottom)… you get the idea.

[Translator’s note: I drew a blank upon encountering the term “medlar”; research, however, apprised me that I knew it as the “níspero,” a fruit I encountered in Spain. Hello, old friend.]

El nombre pulido y socialmente aceptable con que se conoce actualmente es el níspero. Pero durante la mayor parte de 900 años se llamaba a la fruta el “c**o-abierto” — supuestamente referido a la semblanza de su gran “cálice” o trasero. El apodo del níspero al extranjero apenas era más halagüeño. En Francia, se conocía diversamente como “la partie postérieure de ce quadrupède” (la parte posterior de este cuadrúpedo), “cu d’singe” (c**o de mono), “cu d’ane” (c**o de asno), y “cul de chien” (c**o de perro)… captas la idea. [Translated by JMN]

(Zaria Gorvett, “The forgotten medieval fruit with a vulgar name,”, 3-25-21)

French “cul” and apocopated “cu” are cognate with Spanish “c**o.”

There’s much ink spilt on British “ar**” versus American “a**,” referencing “bottom.” One is less dainty than the other, or both are so, or neither is.

To be honest, the anatomical range of the posterior part extends from sunny callipygous uplands to the heart of darkness. There’s ample leeway for “bottom,” “rear,” “backside,” “keester,” “rump” and the like to cover cheek.

(c) 2021 JMN. All rights reserved

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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2 Responses to The ‘Open-(Ahem)’

  1. Very interesting! Does the pomegranate have a similar number of names?

    Liked by 1 person

    • JMN says:

      A good question! It’s an ancient fruit, I suspect there’s a great deal of lore around it. I have 3 pomegranates that I hope will revive from our brutal February freeze. They look very sad at present. I’m inclined to see if a medlar would grow in my clime. It’s an attractive tree apart from its fruit, which must be allowed to rot before consuming. (!)


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