The explosion of allegations of impropriety among men with power has got me thinking.
When I was young (lo these many years ago) the terms defining such men didn’t always seem to have negative connotations. Given the culture at the time, labeling men with terms like Casanova, ladies’ man, Romeo, Don Juan and even playboy didn't necessarily seem negative. Though this could reflect a naïveté on my part, I’m pretty sure it mostly reflected the patriarchal nature of the era.
I don’t think there’s any argument that in this regard we have entered a new era.
To that end, here are some modern definitions of words you might find upon looking up synonyms for the term Casanova, Don Juan, or ladies’ man.
cad - a man or boy whose behavior is not gentlemanly, an ill-mannered fellow, a mean, vulgar seducer
Casanova - a man of carnal adventures — a connoisseur of seduction
Don Juan - a serial seducer, also a dissolute nobleman & seducer of women - the hero of many poems, plays, & operas
gallant - initially (early 1400s) a seducer of women, then a man of fashion & pleasure, & then, a man who is particularly attentive to women, eventually a dashing man who pursues women
lady-killer - a man who is very successful at attracting women, but soon leaves them
lecher - a man who indulges his sexual desires excessively & without restraint
libertine - one who acts without moral restraint & has no care for what others think
Lothario - a jaunty rake
lounge lizard - an idler & pleasure seeker in search of women to support him
masher - a man who annoys women not acquainted with him by attempting familiarities
philanderer - a man who engages in serial, insincere love affairs,
playboy - a well-to-do man who spends much time & energy in pleasure seeking & dissipation
poodle-faker - British army slang for an ingratiating man who flirts, especially for social or professional advancement
Romeo - a passionate admirer & seducer of women
satyr - a lustful or lecherous man
skirt chaser - a man who habitually tries to seduce women
smooth operator - a man who appears pleasant, relaxed and confident in an attempt to deceive; a con artist or clever scoundrel
wolf - a man who flirts aggressively with many women
womanizer - an adulterous man
paramour - one engaged in sexual love as distinct from other kinds of love, an illicit or secret lover
rake - a man habituated to immoral conduct
So, are Casanova & cad synonymous? Please leave a comment.
Big thanks to this week’s sources: the OED, Wordnik, Etymonline, Merriam Webster, & Collins Dictionary.
Last week we considered some descendants of the Latin root cadere, to fall. This week we’ll take a look at some less likely descendants of that same word.
When the conductor’s baton falls it establishes the cadence, of the piece. Cadence showed up in English in the late 1300s, meaning flow of rhythm in verse or music.
The past participle of the Latin word cadere was casus, meaning a mishap, accident, chance or opportunity (not only can we fall on bad times, we can fall on good fortune). Casus gave birth to a number of English words, one of the first being case. Used as early as the 1200s to mean what befalls one, then in the 1300s adding its grammatical sense & the meaning an instance or example. From there it blossomed to include all the meanings of case we employ today.
In the late 1300s the word occasion came to English. It traveled through Old French from casus, & throws light on an occasion (or falling) being referred to with the idiom “what’s going down”.
Another form of casus/cadere is cidere. It brought us the word incident (meaning event) in the early 1400s. It also brought us recidivist, to fall back again, a word used to refer to one who falls back into sin in the 1400s & adding the meaning a relapsed criminal in the 1800s. Also born of cidere is the word coincide, meaning to fall together. Coincide showed up in the 1700s. And though a fallen apple might get turned into cider, there is no etymological relationship between cider & cidere.
When cadere made its way into Vulgar Latin, it was used to refer to the fall of the dice, then made its way through French to show up in the 1300s as the English word chance. In French law when land went to the state due to the lack of heirs, the Latin word excadere, to fall away became in French escheat, which made its way into English in the 1400s as cheat.
All from a little old word meaning to fall. I’m hoping, dear reader, you’ll post a comment. I’m particularly interested in which of these descendants of cadere surprised or intrigued you most.
Big thanks to this week’s sources: Etymonline, Wordnik, Merriam-Webster & the OED
I write for teens, narrate audio books, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.
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