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Senior Member
posted 04-07-2002 08:51 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for deborahknowles   Click Here to Email deborahknowles     Edit/Delete Message
Could anybody tell me how these were referred to in the Middle Ages? Strumpet? Whore? (It's for a novel- a grown-up one!)


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posted 04-11-2002 11:17 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for duncan   Click Here to Email duncan     Edit/Delete Message
The two you stated above were used and here are a few more.

Old English:
Tart, a girl of loose morals or a prostitute.

Old Scots:
Dyke-louper, an immoral un-married woman.
The meaning of Dyke in this context is the marriage tie, or obligation, or sacramental wall that prohibits such illicit behavior and Louper is one who treats the wall with disrespect, despises it, or its impediment as non existent.

Byssim, a worthless shameless woman

Maggie-rab, an ancient term for a violent, quarrelsome and disagreable woman.
This phrase is very susceptible to interpretation but its Gaelic meanings refer to being dirty or slovenly.

Megan and Ralph
Castle Duncan

The Construction Site

[This message has been edited by duncan (edited 04-11-2002).]

posted 04-11-2002 06:44 PM           Edit/Delete Message
Dyke louper literally means a wall jumper.
The term more frequently applies to a woman who treats anothers marriage vows with contempt....you get the picture.
Bissim is usually conected to the adjective dirty, giving dirty bissim, a term used in a much wider sense now as a general insult or even as a part humourous comment on the language of another.
Courtesan was a term used to describe a mistress. Tranter used this to title one of his novels based on the life of Ludovick Stewart, sometime Earl of Lennox, and cousin to James the 6th.
In some parts of Scotland the word 'quine' refers simply to a young woman, but has also been used to describe a prostitute in other areas.....you have to be careful where you are and which dialect you are speaking!

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posted 04-12-2002 08:45 AM     Click Here to See the Profile for duncan   Click Here to Email duncan     Edit/Delete Message
and the meanings of words change from one century to another let alone from glen to glen.
It seems the term Dyke louper has pretty much stayed the same but the word Byssim is used a little differently now then it was 200 plus years ago.
I'm thinking the 'quine' refering to a prostitute in some areas might be a change in progress for the use of the word.
It's Interesting to note the difference that time makes.

Senior Member
posted 04-16-2002 02:48 PM     Click Here to See the Profile for deborahknowles   Click Here to Email deborahknowles     Edit/Delete Message
Thanks guys. Did 'harlot' have a different meaning then? In Chaucer it refers to a man.


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