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.
I write for teens & tweens, bake bread, play music, and ponder the wonder of words in a foggy little town on California's central coast.
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