FEMICIDE.

I was reading the excellent and harrowing Nation article “Alone Among the Ghosts: Roberto Bolano’s ’2666′” by Marcela Valdes, which I found via a MetaFilter post, and all the while part of me was annoyed at the use of what seemed to me the badly formed word femicide, a product (as I thought) of our politically correct era, like “herstory” to counter history. Then I checked with the OED and found that it’s been around at least since 1801 (“This species of delinquency may be denominated femicide“). It’s still ill formed, and it still irritates me, but at least it’s got pedigree.

Comments

  1. It’s a crime, like genocide, that could use it’s own distinct word. Gynocide?

  2. I wonder how old it is in Spanish. I’ll admit that I have no idea where to look for that information.

  3. @zhoen: “Gynocide” will still irritate purists, as it mixes a Greek and a Latinate root. “Feminicide”, which is five times less frequent as “femicide” according to Google but still widely attested, might just do the trick.

  4. Yes, “feminicide” is well formed but awkward, which is doubtless why it’s less popular (and only has one citation in the OED: 1833 Blackw. Mag. XXXIII. 545 Our transcendent powers of cold-blooded feminicide).

  5. j. del col says:

    It’s better than womynicide, no?

  6. …and ‘lady killer’ means something else.

  7. matricide.
    uxoricide.

  8. Frederic Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth used the word in their 1953 science-fiction novel The Space Merchants, a satire on marketing tactics. The hero, a former advertising copywriter who left his company, is wanted on trumped-up charges of femicide.

  9. Isn’t 2666 the book that Jim Salant said is really great?

  10. jamessal says:

    Isn’t 2666 the book that Jim Salant said is really great?
    Yes, though I’m not even a quarter through it. It’s like nine hundred pages, divided into five books, and though I was crazy about the first book, I haven’t yet had whatever it is that’s needed (time? energy? courage?) to dive into the second.

  11. If you think of it as a haplology, it becomes respectable, no?

  12. It would be a haplology if the base form were *femimicide, but as things are, I’m afraid I can’t award it that honor.

  13. @Kári Tulinius I don’t know where to get the information either, but I am a native Spanish speaker and I think I am not wrong if I say that both words “femicidio” and “feminicidio” started to be used by the media after the crimes in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico. I never read/heard them before. Their use is not widespread in Spanish and indeed, there is a high probability that somebody had already combined both Latin roots in the past.

  14. matricide
    uxoricide

    Nijma, is it possible that these words might be taken to refer only to the killing of women who are mothers or wives, and not to the killing of any woman?

  15. Bill Walderman says:

    How about muliericide? gynoktony?

  16. Bill Walderman says:

    Make that gynoctony.

  17. Groan. Why is it that I’m suddenly aware that most bloggers are men?
    And why does this sort of thing bring out the worst in you? I mean, I read you guys. You’re smart. You’re witty. You’re intelligent. You seem to have good heads on your shoulders and good hearts. And yet… and yet… given the smallest chance you’re making up funny words for killing women.
    It’s testosterone or the Y-chromosome.

  18. Stuart, matricide seems sort of Freudian to me,
    uxoricide I believe can refer to either a man or woman who kills a spouse. Then there’s murder, which is generic, but manslaughter and homicide are somewhat gender specific.
    mab, why not brainstorm? Domestic violence is much more visible than it used to be, and seems to be entering political discussion threads more and more. Lynching technically means any kind of execution without trial, but has come to mean more or less a racial hate crime at this point, but the word is also being used in connection with men murdering their partners. Also there is “honour killing” which involves brothers killing their sisters, usually on the orders of their father. On the level of using words for political purposes, it would be nice to find a solid word for killing women that didn’t “sound funny” but had an emotional impact.

  19. michael farris says:

    There’s also the fact that the linguistically inclined can forget all about the context of what they’re trying to establish a word for, being distracted by the bright shiny thing that a well-formed neologism is and forgetting about the reality of what it is that is being described.
    I would say though that a word like ‘feminicide’ is pointless without a word expressing the killing of males, viricide?

  20. jamessal says:

    uxoricide I believe can refer to either a man or woman who kills a spouse.
    Not in my dictionary it can’t, nor should I expect it to; “uxor” is “wife.”
    manslaughter and homicide are somewhat gender specific.
    They are not.

  21. are too

  22. jamessal says:

    No, you are!

  23. There’s also the fact that the linguistically inclined can forget all about the context of what they’re trying to establish a word for, being distracted by the bright shiny thing that a well-formed neologism is and forgetting about the reality of what it is that is being described.
    Just like Oppenheimer and crew, prior to Gita-quoting?

  24. is.

  25. It’s still ill formed, and it still irritates me, …
    It irritates me too. If it didn’t, I’d fix things so it did!
    But why are we not irritated also by homicide? Shouldn’t it be hominicide, like OED’s hominiform and hominivorous? OED has a headword homiform: “erroneous [for] hominiform.” See also hominist: “One who advocates for men the rights and privileges conventionally accorded to women.”

  26. It’s still ill formed, and it still irritates me, …
    It irritates me too. If it didn’t, I’d fix things so it did!
    But why are we not irritated also by homicide? Shouldn’t it be hominicide, like OED’s hominiform and hominivorous? OED has a headword homiform: “erroneous [for] hominiform.” See also hominist: “One who advocates for men the rights and privileges conventionally accorded to women.”

  27. marie-lucie says:

    Nijma: manslaughter and homicide are somewhat gender specific.
    No, indeed they are not, as jamessal already said.
    If manslaughter referred only to the killing of a man, then there would be another word to refer to the killing of a woman, just as there are -cide words referring specifically to the killing of a king, god, father, mother, brother, sister, wife, newborn child, and yet other individuals. There is no such word specifically referring to the killing of a woman, which is why femi(ni)cide is being discussed as a possibility. man in this context is as in mankind, which refers to the human race in general. This generic meaning was the original meaning, even though the came to refer mostly to adult males.
    Same reasoning for homicide, which means “killing of a human being”. In Latin the word homo, from the same root as in homicide, means just “human being”. In one of the Latin plays there is a dispute between husband and wife, in the course of which the wife declares Homo sum! “I am a human being!” when she feels that she is being treated as less than human. This word was generic, as opposed to vir “man (adult male)” and femina or mulier “woman”. (This Latin word homo has nothing to do with the Greek prefix homo- meaning “same”, as in homogeneous and other words).
    Incidentally, the word woman is not from woe-man as some women think, but from Old English wif-man (the i was long), literally “woman-human being”. wif alone eventually became wife, which originally meant “adult woman”, whether married or not, as in Chaucer’s The Wife of Bath which meant “the woman from Bath”. The expression man and wife also simply meant “man and woman” = a couple, a close association (as also in fork and knife or bread and butter).
    Lynching technically means any kind of execution without trial, … but the word is also being used in connection with men murdering their partners.
    My understanding is that “lynching” refers to unlawful public killing by a mob, as opposed to “execution” which refers to legal killing by a public official, after a decision by a legal authority. I am surprised that the word is being used for a one on one, private killing.

  28. Bill Walderman says:

    Homicide isn’t ill-formed. It’s a direct borrowing from Latin homicida.

  29. marie-lucie says:

    Noetica: why are we not irritated also by homicide? Shouldn’t it be hominicide, like OED’s hominiform and hominivorous?
    homicide was not formed as an English word by putting together Latin elements, but is an adaptation of the Latin word homicidium (not hominicidium), which is based on the root hom, not on the stem homin-. Who are we to tell the Latins that their formation of this word more than 2000 years ago was wrong?
    OED has a headword homiform: “erroneous [for] hominiform.” See also hominist: “One who advocates for men the rights and privileges conventionally accorded to women.”
    The other forms quoted from the OED are probably relatively recent coinages from when Latin was no longer a living language but its elements were cannibalized in order to create scientific terms (something that still goes on with Latin and Greek elements). For instance hominivorous could be an alternate form for man-eating as in man-eating tiger, which does not imply that the animal has an aversion to eating women.
    As for hominist, it looks like it is intended as a perhaps humorous parallel to feminist in both form and meaning.

  30. Surprised no one’s mentioned “gendercide”, a word I often hear come up on the anniversary of the Montreal massacre:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gendercide

  31. The earlier comment about the thoughtless delight in shiny new neologisms reminded me of this snippet from a word of the day email I get. Today’s was ucalegon, and one of the sample quotes seemed very relevant, perhaps as a warning of the possible consequences:
    “Mingling with the crowd gathered outside the burning dwelling, the ill-starred lexicographer simply could not restrain himself; after smugly flaunting the word ucalegon several dozen times, he was set upon by his neighbors and cast into the flames.”
    - Novobatzky & Shea, Depraved and Insulting English
    (2002)

  32. @hat: why do you find it awkward? As far as I can see, it violates none of the usual constraints on English phonology, and is prosodically no worse than “femininity”, “feminization” or even “feminism”, all words that surely displeased listeners when first coined but are now widely attested.

  33. marie-lucie says:

    Alon, it is not the constraints on English phonology, it is the faithfulness to Latin word-formation, which seems to favour the designation feminicide rather than femicide.
    Most of the other -cide words, from Latin, have three syllables, and so does femicide, parallelling homicide, but at the same time fem is not a root, only a sequence of sounds parallel to hom (in spite of the similarity). Unlike the previously mentioned words, feminicide would have four syllables, like uxoricide “wife-murder” and sororicide “sister-murder”. (It is pure coincidence that these words all refer to women; matricide “mother-murder” follows the three-syllable pattern).
    gendercide is an English-Latin hybrid, therefore ill-formed, and it does not correspond to the meaning pattern of the other -cide words. All the other words mean “killing of”, while this one would mean “killing because of” (since presumably not all members of the “gender” – if that means anything – would be targets for murder, unlike with genocide).

  34. Michael:
    OED has viricide in your sense, from 1766. But under a separate head it means “killing viruses” (cf. virucide).
    Bill and Marie-Lucie:
    There are two meanings of homicide: one (from homicida) means the person who does the deed; the other (from homicidium) means the deed itself.
    Who are we to tell the Latins that their formation of this word more than 2000 years ago was wrong?
    Why, we are no one to say it is wrong! But we can still be irritated, if our sensibilities are of sufficient reach. I am delighted to report my palpable indignation also at lapicide (OED: “One who cuts stones, or inscriptions on stone”; as explained at the entry for “-cide”, the meaning is both “kill” and “cut”). Since the stem is lapid- (as seen in lapidary, delapidate), the Romans might have had lapidicide instead. Ever wilful, they did not.
    I am unruffled by both vermicide and verminicide, since they may be construed as from vermis and vermen respectively. But I reserve the option of being peeved by germicide. (Why not germinicide? Yes I know: not an original Latin formation.) And then there are such pullulating forms as spermicide, spermacide, and spermaticide, which pullulate and compete among themselves for acceptance. I set them all acide as semanticidal. (Seminicidal? Semicidal? You decide.)

  35. Except, as LHards will recall, that lapidicidium occurs in the Modern Latin of Roberto de Sarno. But stonecutters in Classical Latin are lapicida, even though they worked in lapicidinae (“quarries”).

  36. it is the faithfulness to Latin word-formation
    Serious question – why should this matter when forming English words? We allow back formations that aren’t true to their “roots”, why not words like femicide that might be described as “inspired by” or “after the pattern of”? If we were forming words from Latinate roots for use in Latin, I could see a point to fidelity, but if if the end product is for our use then why should we worry about etymological purity, something that English has prided itself on never having given a Continental about?
    Apart from the fact that concern for faithfulness to the word-formation rules of the “parent” language would represent an heretical break with English tradition, there’s also the fact that the word being created is not the sum of its parts, etymologically speaking. If Latin never had a word that meant “killing a person solely because they have no Y chromosome”, then why should a word being coined to serve that function observe Latin’s rules? In Indian English, two common words are funda and senti. Both were created as contractions of standard English words, fundamental and sentimental. Neither words means what their “parent” word does, as evidenced by this discussion of “senti”. The roots were modified to suit a new purpose and not in a way that accorded with the rules of the language from which they came, but in accord with the rules of the language doing the modifying. Isn’t this exactly what has happened with femicide?

  37. marie-lucie says:

    Thank you for the additions, Noetica.
    I agree with you about the ignorant lapicide (where did the OED get it from?). For the others, it seems that the 3-syllable words are the most common: vermicide, germicide, spermicide (as well as fungicide in the same general semantic field) are the only ones I am familiar with. (Note also the prevalence of the -mi- sequence in many of the words, occurring just before -cide as also in homicide, which might influence the choice of femicide).
    Among human-killing words, I forgot suicide, literally “self-killing”, also a trisyllabic word.

  38. (Um, the stonecutters are lapicidae. A slip of the fingers. They are not, germanely, lapidicidae.)

  39. m-l and noetica — interesting for someone like me who didn’t study Latin and couldn’t figure out the “ill-formed” complaint. I wondered about the OED and viricide; almost all the dictionaries I found gave the sole definition as “an agent that destroys or inhibits viruses.”

  40. I was well and truly hoist by my own syllable-juggling antics. Let me rework one of my sentences, drawing together various corrections:

    But stonecutters in Classical Latin are lapicidae, not lapidicidae; and they worked in lapicidinae (“quarries”), not lapidicidinae.

  41. marie-lucie: Thanks for doing the heavy lifting here, and saving me a lot of work!
    Nij: Once again you find yourself clinging doggedly to the losing side of an argument.
    why do you find it awkward? As far as I can see, it violates none of the usual constraints on English phonology
    Nothing to do with phonology. Besides what m-l said, it dislike it because it falsely implies “homicide” is somehow male-specific (just as “beefburger” implies hamburgers are made of ham).

  42. Who are we to tell the Latins that their formation of this word more than 2000 years ago was wrong?
    Someone needs to take those bastards down a peg. Improper word-formation was the least of their crimes.
    If we used “hominicide” instead of “homicide”, we’d have no word for the act of killing hominy.

  43. Who are we to tell the Latins that their formation of this word more than 2000 years ago was wrong?
    Someone needs to take those bastards down a peg. Improper word-formation was the least of their crimes.
    If we used “hominicide” instead of “homicide”, we’d have no word for the act of killing hominy.

  44. why should this matter when forming English words?
    There’s no “should” about it. It matters to some people (like me and the even stricter Noetica) and not to others (like you). Why should I like chunky peanut butter and my wife smooth? Такова се ля ви, as the Russians say.

  45. Ah, as Thesaurus Linguae Romanae Et Britannicae (1578 edition) attests, they did indeed use lapidicida, along with its contraction to lapicida. A lapse on their side, no doubt.
    Heavy lifting? Indeed. Quarrywork. Sisyphean.

  46. i dislike it because it falsely implies “homicide” is somehow male-specific
    That makes sense to me, but is that meaning implied or inferred? I ask because the first thing I thought of when I read femicide was “now we need a male-specific equivalent”. The idea that “homicide might be the victim of a “reverse etymological fallacy” did not even occur to me. Then again, I always thought “beefburger” was a sort of bak-formation inspired by “chickenburger” and possibly an attempt to say “this is real, edible food, not tofu”. I have never met anyone who thinks hamburgers are made from ham, despite the widespread use of “beefburger”. I do see the potential for “femicide” to implant the “homicide= killing a MAN” idea, though.

  47. Why should I like chunky peanut butter and my wife smooth?
    Again, thanks for presenting the situation in terms I can grasp. May that’s a fem/hom issue too, since the chunky/smooth split in my household follows the same gender pattern as you describe above.

  48. marie-lucie says:

    etymological purity, something that English has prided itself on never having given a Continental about
    Is that really true? for colloquial usage, yes, but the prescriptivists seem to have given a lot of thought to conformity with Latin.
    I am not defending etymological purity at all costs, I have been pointing out the sometimes conflicting patterns that might influence the choice of one form or another. A word femicide would be an obvious parallel to homicide, but since the other woman-centered words – feminine/femininity, feminize/feminization, feminism/feminist – are all built on femin- not fem, femicide seems oddly incomplete. But …
    …. meanwhile Noetica has brought up that lapicide is from Latin lapicida (not lapidicida which would be the expected etymological form).
    I did not know the Latin word (or the English one), hence my earlier reaction, but it looks like the Latins were not above chopping a syllable off the first word of the compound in order to make it conform with the general pattern. This could be used as a point in favour of the word femicide even if someone were concerned about faithfulness to Latin word-formation.

  49. marie-lucie says:

    LH, Stuart: Don’t overgeneralize: I prefer chunky peanut butter myself, when I do eat it.

  50. Okay folks, here are a couple more questions in the “word formation from ancient languages involving death” department.
    I noticed that press reports on the polo horses that died all used the word “necropsy.” Makes sense: necropsy = looking at a dead body. Apparently this usage dates to the mid-1800s. Q #1: Is necropsy ONLY used for non-human dead bodies?
    Autopsy = an eye-witnessing (1651); personal observation, ocular view (Webster 1812); dissection of a body to determine cause of death (1678). I can see how “eye-witness” came to mean “opening up a body to see for yourself what caused death,” but necropsy is the more logical choice, no? Anyone else find that weird?
    Also,I had never before considered the need for a word to describe the act of killing hominy. But now that you mention it, I don’t see how I lived this long without it.

  51. Nij: Once again you find yourself clinging doggedly to the losing side of an argument.
    You misunderstand, Hat. I’m not clinging to anything. My “is too”, “is not” response is meant to poke fun at the kind of reasoning that just asserts something in an argumentative way. Are we supposed to believe something because someone simply declares in a bullying tone that something is true? I don’t find that kind of authoritarianism particularly useful no matter how many credentials the person has. If someone wants to engage me on that level, they will not find me cooperative. This same thing happened before not to long ago and the effect was personally disturbing enough to me that it interfered with doing the things that were important to me in my life at that particular moment. It’s one of the reasons my comments have been shorter and more laconic lately. I have no desire to be sucked into some sort of drama. I’m certainly willing to learn, and I find the thread interesting and quite pertinent, but I also hope I have some unique perspective to add to the mix, and that other bloggers find what I say to be worth considering, otherwise I would just lurk. I have to go to work now, otherwise I would try to find time to comment on the actual subject of the thread. Sorry for the derailment, but I really don’t know what else to do.

  52. etymological purity, something that English has prided itself on never having given a Continental about
    Is that really true? for colloquial usage, yes, but the prescriptivists seem to have given a lot of thought to conformity with Latin.

    Marie-lucie, I am grateful for your detailed explanations of the technical reasons for describing femicide as “ill-formed” As always I learned much from your post.
    The problem, as usual existed solely between my keyboard and my chair. I had missed the fact that Hat was stating a subjective opinion.In a twist the irony of which is almost suffocating in its richness, I misread Hat’s post by taking it at face value. It’s the sort of situation that makes me wish our gracious host was not such an emoticonophobe, because there are several really expressive ones that would fit here.
    That said, I do think that English as a language has never cared about etymological purity, even though prescriptivists do. If English did care, surely there would be no “television”?

  53. LH, Stuart: Don’t overgeneralize: I prefer chunky peanut butter myself, when I do eat it
    You’re right of course, marie-lucie, all generalisations are dangerous. My response to Hat had been intended as a question, not a statement, but the “be” fell off the end of “may” and I forgot the the question mark. Maybe I shouldn’t be posting at 00:52?

  54. marie-lucie says:

    It was my turn to be ironic.

  55. Do all linguists prefer chunky, just as all linguists seem to be good at mathematics? More important, is there an emoticon that indicates a preference for smooth?

  56. Piercing questions, AJP. Being a non-linguist who has never liked or been good at maths, and whose house currently has only smooth peanut butter, I have no answers.

  57. I prefer chunky, though I’m not good at math. But then I’m not a linguist.

  58. It seems everyone is avoiding my emoticon question. No wonder people get mad around here.

  59. marie-lucie says:

    AJP: Do all linguists prefer chunky, just as all linguists seem to be good at mathematics?
    I have never had the opportunity to determine other linguists’ preferences in peanut butter. Interesting research topic perhaps, but I prefer to leave it to someone else.
    As for being good at mathematics, I think that depends on the individual. I am not particularly good at it, in spite of being the daughter and sister of math teachers.

  60. I have no intelligent observations on emoticons, but I still wish someone would tell me about necropsy and autopsy.

  61. I’ll leave it to Marie-Lucie, it’s her turn to be ironic.

  62. I used to have a link to a protocol for necroscopies on juvenile tapirs, but it went dead on me.

  63. I used to have a link to a protocol for necroscopies on juvenile tapirs, but it went dead on me.

  64. marie-lucie says:

    Autopsy and necropsy seem to mean exactly the same. According to The Free Dictionary:

    Autopsy: Examination of a cadaver to determine or confirm the cause of death. Also called necropsy, postmortem, postmortem examination.

    Perhaps the difference is that autopsy is used more commonly for human bodies and necropsy for animal bodies.

  65. I can tell you about necropolises, or necropoleis, as the G(r)eeks down at Wiki would have it.

  66. OED on necropsy (entry revised Sept. 2008):
      Pathological examination of a dead body; post-mortem examination; an instance of this; = AUTOPSY n. 2a. [Dissection of a dead body, so as to ascertain by actual inspection its internal structure, and esp. to find out the cause or seat of disease; post-mortem examination.]
      1842 R. DUNGLISON Med. Lexicon (ed. 3) 470/2 Necropsy, autopsia cadaverica. 1860 T. H. TANNER On Signs & Dis. Pregnancy vii. 288 At the necropsy the corpus luteum was found in the right ovary. 1880 M. MACKENZIE Man. Dis. Throat & Nose I. 99 At the necropsy of a case.. ulcers were found on the lateral walls of the pharynx. 1891 Cycl. Temp. & Prohib. 628/1 Necropsy reveals either an empty heart or black fluid. 1910 Practitioner Apr. 453 More definite evidence of the existence of gastrostaxis, apart from gastric ulcer, is obtained from biopsies and necropsies. 1939 Amer. Midland Naturalist 22 741 A necropsy of the squirrels failed to indicate any major ailment and the viscera were free of inflammations. 1968 Brain 91 490 An unsuspected (oat-celled) carcinoma of the bronchus was found at necropsy. 1999 New Yorker 18 Oct. 92 McNamara performed necropsies, and when she opened the birds’ skulls she found that they’d had brain hemorrhages.
    Interestingly, although the definition doesn’t limit it to nonhuman subjects, it clearly seems to have developed in that direction; I guess a need was felt to separate animals from humans lexically.

  67. OK, I’ll tell you about one.
    There’s a Victorian necropolis — it’s really a huge cemetery, but it was called the London Necropolis — that had it’s own railway station and line to transport bodies and mourners directly from central London into the cemetery.

  68. Among those buried there are Rebecca West, Dodi al Faid, John Singer Sargent and Margaret, Duchess of Argyll, who had earlier been caught on a polaroid with the headless man, Duncan Sandys.

  69. Necropsy and necroscopy both are used occasional.

  70. Necropsy and necroscopy both are used occasional.

  71. Necropsy is 100x more common, though, per Google.

  72. Necropsy is 100x more common, though, per Google.

  73. marie-lucie says:

    LH: I guess a need was felt to separate animals from humans lexically
    Or perhaps the differences in use developed in different specialties, since medical doctors and veterinarians do not deal with the same bodies, alive or dead, and therefore rarely encounter each other on the job or read each other’s professional literature.

  74. Thank you, O! Learned Ones. Very nice necropolises. (And fascinating tapirs, too.)
    I’m still wondering why there was a need to distinguish between animal and human autopsies. I’m not convinced that it’s “the sacredness of human life even after it ends.” Languages aren’t logical, but still – if I were casting around for a suitably scientific name for a look at a corpse, and I had settled on ancient Greek as my source language, I’d go with necropsy instead of redefining autopsy. But that’s just me.

  75. My, APJC, the duchess was a pistol.

  76. In the universe where video recordings have no practical resolution limitations, coroners always say necropsy when they have occasion to autopsy an animal instead of a human. So at least those writers feel that the distinction is absolute.

  77. ‘Chemical restraint’ is a vet’s phrase that could, no doubt, be used euphemistically.

  78. marie-lucie says:

    mab: I’m still wondering why there was a need to distinguish between animal and human autopsies
    Consider the frequency and the circumstances under which the two kinds of autopsies are performed. Consider also the histories of the two words and their contexts of use.
    necropsy calls up related words definitely suggestive of death and decay, such as necrosis and necrophagous besides necropolis. There are no such reminiscences in autopsy.
    For the French equivalents, autopsie is first attested in 1573, nécropsie (same meaning) in 1836 (references from the Petit Robert). The nécro- words are all attested at least a century later than autopsie, the earliest one being nécromant “necromancer” (someone who calls up the spirits of the dead), and they do not refer to the physical aspects of death until the 19th century.
    Since technical vocabulary (from Latin and/or Greek) tends to be very similar in French and English, and to spread quickly between languages because of translations, autopsy was probably used much earlier than necropsy, a much later technical term. In addition, an autopsy is frequently reguired in a forensic context, so that it belongs to the general as well as legal vocabulary, while the more specific technical word necropsy applied to animals would probably be infrequent in the same setting and therefore used mostly in a veterinary context.

  79. I think that autopsies are just more fraught and less businesslike than necropsies. The naming difference is as silly and pointless as any other polite euphemism, but allows people to imagine that there’s some difference, and that their dear mother is being handled more reverently than some anonymous tapir would be.

  80. I think that autopsies are just more fraught and less businesslike than necropsies. The naming difference is as silly and pointless as any other polite euphemism, but allows people to imagine that there’s some difference, and that their dear mother is being handled more reverently than some anonymous tapir would be.

  81. In 1943, Margaret Sweeny had a near fatal fall down an elevator shaft while visiting her chiropodist on Bond Street.
    That’s supposed to explain her nymphomania, but how do you fall down an elevator shaft, and who cares whether she was visiting a chiropodist?

  82. In 1943, Margaret Sweeny had a near fatal fall down an elevator shaft while visiting her chiropodist on Bond Street.
    That’s supposed to explain her nymphomania, but how do you fall down an elevator shaft, and who cares whether she was visiting a chiropodist?

  83. marie-lucie says:

    autopsies vs necropsies
    I didn’t even know the word necropsy (perhaps because I don’t have animals) before reading the other comments here, and I don’t think that many people know that word, while they are familiar with autopsy (which has its own euphemisms: post-mortem, etc). The word necropsy appears to have been coined much later than autopsy, so that it is not like the average person feels the need to decide which of the two words to use.
    fall down an elevator shaft while visiting her chiropodist
    Presumably the chiropodist was not practicing in the elevator shaft, so the lady couldn’t have fallen while visiting him/her, only before or after. It is likely that the otherwise irrelevant chiropodist was included in the story in order to emphasize that the lady had a respectable reason for being in the building.

  84. It was likely her bad foot that caused her to topple down the elevator shaft. Funny that they don’t say whether it was Old Bond St. or New Bond St.
    The Dukes of Argyll are a rum lot, I think one was a nazi, or something. The 9th Duke (who was married to Queen Victoria’s daughter, Princess Louise, as well as having been Governor-General of Canada) is thought to have been mixed up, with Ernest Shackleton’s brother, in the theft of the Irish Crown Jewels. I wasn’t aware that the Irish had crown jewels.

  85. Se our most reasonable assumption is that, in the same building in which her chiropodist had an office, she fell down an elevator shaft while having hot sex.

  86. Se our most reasonable assumption is that, in the same building in which her chiropodist had an office, she fell down an elevator shaft while having hot sex.

  87. I suspect that her chiropodist was a Bunbury pure and simple and was used to explain more or less everything.

  88. I suspect that her chiropodist was a Bunbury pure and simple and was used to explain more or less everything.

  89. than some anonymous tapir would be.
    Anonymous to you, maybe, but not to its friends and relations.

  90. I imagine that tapirs all have colorful nicknames like Squinteye John and Lardass Bill. I don’t imagine them being named Algernon DeVere III.
    But perhaps I’m terribly wrong.

  91. I imagine that tapirs all have colorful nicknames like Squinteye John and Lardass Bill. I don’t imagine them being named Algernon DeVere III.
    But perhaps I’m terribly wrong.

  92. According to report, all tapirs could be named Long Dong Silver, so none of them are.

  93. According to report, all tapirs could be named Long Dong Silver, so none of them are.

  94. marie-lucie says:

    JE: I suspect that her chiropodist was a Bunbury pure and simple
    Please explain. I have never run into this phrase before.

  95. Watch it, John Emerson, or you may find yourself under ‘chemical restraint’.

  96. An imaginary friend, from The Importance of Being Ernest, by Oscar Wilde.

  97. Algernon: Literary criticism is not your forte, my dear fellow. Don’t try it. You should leave that to people who haven’t been at a University. They do it so well in the daily papers. What you really are is a Bunburyist. I was quite right in saying you were a Bunburyist. You are one of the most advanced Bunburyists I know.
    Jack:
    What on earth do you mean?
    Algernon:
    You have invented a very useful younger brother called Ernest, in order that you may be able to come up to town as often as you like. I have invented an invaluable permanent invalid called Bunbury, in order that I may be able to go down into the country whenever I choose. Bunbury is perfectly invaluable. If it wasn’t for Bunbury’s extraordinary bad health, for instance, I wouldn’t be able to dine with you at Willis’s to-night, for I have been really engaged to Aunt Augusta for more than a week.
    Everyone should read TIOBE once a year.

  98. Algernon: Literary criticism is not your forte, my dear fellow. Don’t try it. You should leave that to people who haven’t been at a University. They do it so well in the daily papers. What you really are is a Bunburyist. I was quite right in saying you were a Bunburyist. You are one of the most advanced Bunburyists I know.
    Jack:
    What on earth do you mean?
    Algernon:
    You have invented a very useful younger brother called Ernest, in order that you may be able to come up to town as often as you like. I have invented an invaluable permanent invalid called Bunbury, in order that I may be able to go down into the country whenever I choose. Bunbury is perfectly invaluable. If it wasn’t for Bunbury’s extraordinary bad health, for instance, I wouldn’t be able to dine with you at Willis’s to-night, for I have been really engaged to Aunt Augusta for more than a week.
    Everyone should read TIOBE once a year.

  99. marie-lucie says:

    Thank you, AJP. I read the play a long time ago, but had forgotten this detail. Very useful. The chiropodist too.
    I have read about some women inventing entire imaginary families in order to have something to share with their colleagues at work.

  100. More than one woman?

  101. marie-lucie says:

    AJP: Yes. Not many, but more than one. The practice is also useful for single women travelling in woman-unfriendly countries (Saudi Arabia, etc), where a wedding ring and pictures of children are supposed to come in handy in many social situations. (I have not tried to go there myself).

  102. My first wife and I traveled to Syria before we were married, and we very quickly learned not only to claim we were married but to invent a couple of kids we’d left back home with my parents, because otherwise the questions were just too unavoidable and repetitious and annoying: “You don’t have children? Really? Why not? You are so young! Is there something wrong?” etc. etc.

  103. Thanks for the informed speculation on necropsy/autopsy; I’m satisfied now.
    And for the Duchesss link, which reminds me that I’ve led a very sheltered life after all.
    And the tapir jokes; I didn’t know one could make tapir jokes. (Are tapirs inherently funny?)
    When I go to Turkey and Egypt I sometimes dig out my old wedding ring and flash it around. Despite my advanced age (although age didn’t seem to stop the Duchess, did it?), there is always a fair amount of insistent attention (all Americans are rich, did you know that?), and after awhile I gave up bravely fending it off. For the purposes of my visits I have a large Russian husband who occassionally drinks too much and flies into jealous rages. He’s in the hotel right now, resting up.

  104. I have read about some women inventing entire imaginary families in order to have something to share with their colleagues at work.
    Again from Earnest:

    Gwendolen: … I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read in the train.

    Ah, Wilde. Where would we be without him? Don’t we just marvel at the cunning punning choice of Miss Prism, to name the character responsible for the original mix-up?
     

  105. @marie-lucie: I was precisely talking about “feminicide”. See comment #2, where I proposed it as a well-formed alternative to “femicide”.
    @hat: I fail to see your point. “Feminicide” (or whatever form finally gets entrenched in English) is hyponimous of “homicide”, just as “viricide” is. Claiming that ‘it falsely implies “homicide” is somehow male-specific’ is equivalent to claiming that “bycicle” implies that “vehicles” are four-wheeled.

  106. Christophe Strobbe says:

    I suspect that her chiropodist was a Bunbury pure and simple…

    I have read about some women inventing entire imaginary families in order to have something to share with their colleagues at work.

    This reminds me of Jean-Claude Romand, who prenteded he was a doctor, and fooled his family and friends for eighteen years. His “Bunburry” was a job at WHO. Eventually, he committed femicide and infanticide, and made an unsuccessful suicide attempt. There are several books, films and documentaries about his case.

  107. I made an error yesterday. The Dukes of Argyll are not to my knowledge linked with nazism; indeed, most of the political conniving, somersaults and double-dealing of the Campbell family had been accomplished by the close of the 17th Century. I was thinking of the friendship with top nazis that led to Rudolf Hess parachuting into Scotland in 1941 looking for peace; but it was the 14th Duke of Hamilton who was responsible for that.

  108. uxoricide- Not in my dictionary it can’t, nor should I expect it to; “uxor” is “wife.”
    I have read this wrong; it can also refer to the man himself. Actually it’s mariticide that can be used for either one, but usually refers to a wife who murders a husband. These are both too specific–neither one is the “solid word for killing women that doesn’t ‘sound funny’ but has an emotional impact”.
    manslaughter and homicide are somewhat gender specific.
    They are not.
    I realize these words have specific meanings in law and law enforcement, and would be used in a specific way in, say, newspaper accounts where the information is taken from a police department. But for discussion of domestic violence in political threads, they just won’t do. Whether it isn’t good Latin or not will not matter–people who form political discussion groups probably don’t even know what an OED is. They’re going to get as far as hom in homocide and think it sounds like French homme or Spanish hombre and then they’ll see “man” in manslaughter and think it actually means “man” and not “man and woman”. Then, by the time you hyphenate it with some other word to try to make it specifically about killing women, the word will have no emotional impact left at all.
    Oh, and if you tell them that mankind refers to the human race in general, they will put your IP in their spam filter. I’m surprised that a blog with so many people devoted to understanding language (not to mention hats) would be so unaware of gender neutral language. Here’s the wiki, and here’s a short essay with some examples.
    “lynching” … I am surprised that the word is being used for a one on one, private killing.
    The phrase coined was “woman lynching”. One definition of lynch: “To execute without due process of law, especially to hang, as by a mob, ” or ” kill without legal sanction”. The idea that killing women is “one on one, private killing” would be considered a highly political (and unfortunate) statement. A case in point was the Sarah Palin noose which only came down after weeks of demonstrations. A similar Obama noose got someone in custody within hours.
    Here’s a typical paragraph:

    Four women a day are murdered by their husbands in this country for NO reason. Since we invaded Iraq in March 2003, more than 4,200 American soldiers have been killed. In that same time, there have been NINE THOUSAND woman-lynchings; more than twice as many women slaughtered than US casualties in Iraq. And as always, I’m only talking about the 1,500 women a year who are murdered by their husbands — shot, stabbed, beaten, strangled, in extreme terror, often in front of their children. Not the additional 2,000 who are killed by strangers every year. When we read about civil wars in Africa where mothers and fathers are killed in front of their children we recoil in HORROR. We think there must be something profoundly wrong about a culture that spawns such cruel and terrifying practices. Wake up. That kind of terror is COMMONPLACE in the United States. Most of the women who are woman-lynched are mothers of more than one child. How many thousands of children have watched their mothers be stabbed to death or shot right in front of them in the last year or two?

    Interestingly enough, I turned up a definition that distinguishes between femicide and feminicide:

    The Network proposes terms like “femicide” (murders of women) or “feminicide” (crimes of humanity against women just because they are women). Other phrases recommended by feminist movements are “violence against women,” “gender-based violence” and “sexist violence.”

    Consultation of female sources is stressed as a key to avoiding gender discrimination.

    The “Network” is the Argentine Network of Journalists for Non-Sexist Communication in an article about non-sexist language for reporters.

    This language is just so intuitive for me I’m surprised people want to quarrel with me over it. So I checked a couple other blogs to see how they were using words about killing women. Here are the results for a liberal and a conservative blog, both written by women:
    ~~~~~~~~
    liberal blog:
    homocide: 2 ghit 1) “murder behind closed doors in the Senate Democratic Caucus”, “Oh, it’s a homocide alright but what is behind it?” 2)”his fan club is ready to commit homocide-suicide”
    manslaughter: 4 ghits (police court charges)
    woman lynching: 3 ghits (all referencing the other blog)
    femicide: 1
    feminicide: 1
    conservative blog:
    homocide: 0
    manslaughter: 4 (newspaper quotations or police jargon)
    woman lynching: 777 ghits
    femicide: 73 ghits
    feminicide: 0
    ~~~~~~~~

  109. mab:For the purposes of my visits I have a large Russian husband who occasionally drinks too much and flies into jealous rages.
    Nicely done. Two thirds of them want to get married to get a visa, the other third wants to frolic. If you are traveling alone it’s best to tell them you’re a virgin just for personal safety. This will not sound weird no matter how old you are. The rest can be discouraged by a finance at home. But then you will have no one to talk to.
    the questions were just too unavoidable and repetitious and annoying: “You don’t have children? Really? Why not?
    You can put it at the doorstep of Allah and they will stop asking questions. There is a phrase for this that I have forgotten but all you have to do is get the idea across. You would probably have to muster some piety to use this, but no one wants to question the will of Allah.

  110. SnowLeopard says:

    Nijma,
    I’m going to assume that your comment above contains a recurrent typo and that your web research was based on the more typical spelling of homicide rather than the unusual homocide. But it seems an uphill battle, and somewhat speculative, to formulate an argument based on the presumed ignorance of others. Why would someone who’s never heard of the OED jump to etymological conclusions at all, let alone based on knowledge of French or Spanish? In my experience, people who are truly uninterested in language rarely see such parallels, and are more inclined to latch on to crude puns, such as using homocide [sic] to refer to hate crimes based on sexual orientation. And I would not be so quick to dismiss the technical legal definitions, because it seems like everyone thinks they know them, and I suspect that the word homicide is sufficiently prevalent in news accounts and tv shows that people know what it means. Everyone know from popular culture about some police department’s “homicide division”, and no one assumes that homicide detectives are assigned solely to investigate crimes against men – television drama demonstrates otherwise. And in my opinion, people are sufficiently familiar with the previously-mentioned phrase of “hate crime” to more readily understand sentences like “the suspect was charged with a hate crime in connection with the woman’s murder” than “the suspect was charged with femicide.”
    And please don’t interpret this to mean that I have any objection whatsoever to people using “femicide” if they so desire. I personally think that “hate crime” is adequate, and that “femicide” fails to distinguish between sex crimes perpetrated by serial killers, who for horrifying but nonetheless clinically interesting reasons have bundled murderous tendencies with sexual desire, and crimes that are specifically motivated by hatred against women as such. Those are two very different types of motivation. But the people who frequent the blogs you mention don’t sound like they’d be interested in my opinion anyway.

  111. SnowLeopard, can someone be charged with something called ‘a hate crime’ in the US? If so, it’s something I hadn’t realized and it sounds to me (a layperson) quite significant. Unlike ‘murder’, it’s alleging a motivation for committing the crime. It’s also saying that US society is making a specific moral condemnation of ‘hate’ as well as ‘murder’ or ‘violence’. Is that so?

  112. people who form political discussion groups probably don’t even know what an OED is. They’re going to get as far as hom in homocide and think it sounds like French homme or Spanish hombre
    By all means, let’s dumb down the language so that even the most ignorant will not have to experience a moment of cognitive dissonance.
    Also, what SnowLeopard said. And there’s no need to treat us to elaborate explanations of the implications of using “man” for both sexes; we’re not ignoramuses in these parts. But it’s one thing to avoid using “man” that way and quite another to go through the vocabulary looking for other words that might be tainted by association. “Manslaughter” is an ancient word that is not going to change, and the only thing that’s accomplished by complaining about it is a feeling of self-satisfaction, something that in my experience ideologues of all sorts are too prone to. Personally, I’ve been a feminist since around 1970 and am careful to use gender-neutral language when it matters, but I’m not about to go down the “womanslaughter”/”herstory” road.

  113. AJP: This is an ongoing debate; I myself am firmly against the idea of “hate crimes,” which not only tries to base the law on presumed states of “hatred” but implies that killing persons of one gender/race/orientation is worse than killing those of another. We need to eradicate distinctions in treatment, not build them into the system.

  114. SnowLeopard says:

    AJP: Linked is the text of the New York statute. These sorts of things, like gay marriage, tend to be handled on a state-by-state basis, and I don’t know without looking it up whether there’s a corresponding federal statute. If you read the legislative preamble, I think it’s fair to say that there was a desire to express moral condemnation of the act of selecting the target for one’s violence based on membership in a particular social group. But more generally, note that motivation and intent are always relevant to a murder charge — hence the defenses of insanity and self-defense, and the aggravating factor of premeditation.
    I am inclined to respectfully disagree with one aspect of Mr. Hat’s position here. As I read this particular statute, no social group is favored over any other, and a decision to target only men, or whites, or some other group would also satisfy the element of the crime under discussion. And “hatred” generally, while it may be condemned by the legislature, is not itself subject to prosecution. It’s evidence that hatred on the basis of a protected social category served as the motivation for violence that results in the higher criminal penalty. The legislature indicated that it found such evidence particularly devastating to the social fabric, and I can see their point: if someone was selected as a target solely because of their group status, then everyone in that group will start to feel like a potential victim, especially if that type of crime is held to be no worse than any other. As Mr. Hat states, there’s plenty to debate here, and I can easily imagine situations where the statute may be subject to abuse. But I don’t think that hate crimes legislation necessarily entrenches divisive attitudes. We have seen other civil rights statutes remove discriminatory conduct from the domain of civilized discourse, and hopefully there will be a day when hate crimes legislation is regarded as quaint and irrelevant to society’s problems.

  115. AJP: You always know it’s a genuine American Political Issue if it’s been addressed on The West Wing.

  116. I suppose censure of immoral or violent behavior towards one part of society goes back in the US and England to their respective abolition of slavery, then. And, as SL says, ‘hate crimes’ wouldn’t be that different to slavery: it’s illegal no matter who is hated or enslaved.
    Duh. It’s a subject that only just occurred to me.

  117. That’s probably true. I don’t watch it now that there’s a real president.

  118. michael farris says:

    “which not only tries to base the law on presumed states of “hatred” but implies that killing persons of one gender/race/orientation is worse than killing those of another”
    I don’t perceive the latter at all as part of hate crimes legislation, and as for the first, would you also be in favor of eliminating the the distinction between first and second degree murder? negligent homicide etc? There’s a long tradition of taking into consideration the mental state and motives of someone who has killed another.
    You can argue that the distinctions introduced by hate laws are unnecessary (I might or might not agree) but I hardly think of them as an aberration in legal history.

  119. (Forgive me if this has already been answered, but the thread was already rather long when I saw it for the first time, and I may have missed things.)
    Anyway, many of us were taught many years ago that in Latin homo was not the same as vir, but despite the tendency to think the confusion is due to modern ignorance I think it must be pretty old, at least vulgar Latin and maybe even classical, because I think all the main modern Romance languages use words derived from homo to mean man as opposed to woman. I imagine you must know this sort of thing, Marie-Lucie.

  120. Snowleopard: homocide/homicide
    Oopsie, yes, it was a typo I pasted from somewhere late at night. Not my only typo last night either, but we won’t mention the other ones…
    Looking again, both homocide examples came from two comments by the same person, a chemist, who was using it to mean “destructive ideas” and not “murder of homosexuals”.
    Looking at both blogs again with the corrected spelling gives a few more hits:
    homicide (liberal blog) 28 ghits (mostly about police matters and studies of crime statistics), one use for destructive ideas “commit political homicide”
    This one is strictly about women, but I still think it’s mainly in the crime statistic department: “…the leading cause of death of pregnant women in the US is homicide…”
    homicide (conservative blog) 47 ghits (mostly about police and court matters)
    other uses: once as a television program called “Homicide”, once to mean a destructive idea, three instances as a person who kills or shows rage: “the hero as homicide”, “homicide bombers” in Israel, renaming–and reframing–”suicide bombers”, and “and he did one of those fits of rages I have seen men do. I dunno…homicide is sooo much on the surface for some men…”.
    other coined phrases: domestic murder, woman-baiting
    These are activists who care the most about these issues and are probably in the vanguard as far as coining words and experimenting with new language. Even with the corrected spelling, “manslaughter” and “homicide” just aren’t coming up as words used in their ordinary conversation to mean “killing women”.

  121. LH: By all means, let’s dumb down the language so that even the most ignorant will not have to experience a moment of cognitive dissonance.
    It’s not a question of “dumbing down” as much as finding the language to promote a specific set of attitudes or actions. You could think of the f-word in the same way–is it vulgar and “dumbed down”, or is it a short word with impact used to quickly convey an emotional state?
    Personally, I’ve been a feminist since around 1970 and am careful to use gender-neutral language when it matters
    I noticed that a long time ago and I like it.
    the only thing that’s accomplished by complaining about it is a feeling of self-satisfaction
    While it’s impossible to keep people from having thoughts of hatred, expressing those thoughts publicly can be made unacceptable. Do you know Ebay has a policy against “profanity, hate speech, threats of violence or defamatory comments”, but somehow the Palin noose got put up for sale on Ebay? I doubt if they would allow items associated with slavery or the holocaust. That kind of casual acceptance of public expression of violence against women is the sort of thing that can be changed.

  122. expressing those thoughts publicly can be made unacceptable.
    Perhaps, if you’re willing to set up a Gulag. I’m afraid we’ll have to agree to disagree about this; I am, and always have been, in favor of the fullest possible range of expression, with everyone free to say what they want and hurt feelings be damned. One of the few things that’s kept me in some sense proud to be an American over the last few depressing decades has been the First Amendment, and the willingness of the gutsy folk at the ACLU and elsewhere to force the powers that be to keep observing it. Let the Nazis march, let the bigots rave, let the sexists proudly display their sexism; let everyone see, in Bill Burroughs’ words, “what is on the end of every fork.” It is only by free exchange of views, however repellent some may be, that the truth can prevail; trying to suppress speech one does not like is not only authoritarian, it never works. That’s my soapbox, and I’m sticking to it.

  123. I don’t mean to prevent any kind of expression. You will find all kinds of hate speech comments people have left on my site. I leave them stand, replace the profanity with asterisks so that I look child-friendly to search engines, and point out how idiotic–and unacceptable–the comment is. The Ebay thing seems a little different though, because it creates a market value (and therefore demand and supply) for hate.

  124. I would join you on your soapbox for that, Hat, but respectfully disagree with regard to “hate murders.” In the first place, US law does distinguish among states of mind when committing a crime, and in the second, that’s really not the point here. It’s this: 1) we think getting drunk and bashing someone on the head unto death without intention to do real harm is bad; 2) we think bashing them on the head with intention to do real harm is worse; 3) we think plotting to bash them on the head unto death is even worse. We also think bashing someone on the head unto death just because that someone is in a group you hate is also worse than 1) and 2). You don’t have to prove “a state of hatred” at the moment of bashing. And it doesn’t say that killing X is worse than killing Y. It says that if you kill someone just because s/he is black, white, Chinese, gay, etc etc etc. that is a more heinous crime.
    I’m not entirely convinced that “sending messages” with types of crimes is effective, but if someone beats up black kid or hangs a noose in front of their house (as I think happened recently), I’d want the perps to be charged with the more serious hate crime than with vandalism or assault.
    Which (sort of) brings up back to femicide/feminicide: it’s one thing to say “a lot of women got killed,” but IMO it’s another to call it femicide or whatever. (Yes, I know I’m heading in a direction most of you loathe and disdain, but there it is.)

  125. It says that if you kill someone just because s/he is black, white, Chinese, gay, etc etc etc. that is a more heinous crime.
    Yeah, I understand that, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. Of course I hate the idea of someone being killed because “s/he is black, white, Chinese, gay, etc,” but I don’t think that’s a good road for the law to go down. I could, of course, be wrong.

  126. marie-lucie says:

    Athel: in Latin homo was not the same as vir, … [the meaning change] must be pretty old, … all the main modern Romance languages use words derived from homo to mean man as opposed to woman.
    This is a common evolution which has occurred in other languages as well, from a generic meaning “human being” to “man” meaning male adult. This evolution does not necessarily mean that men are considered as the typical kind of human being, but can be explained by the fact that since there is always a specific word for “woman” (because of the unique childbearing role), the meaning of the generic word, eg the original word “man”, tends to become narrowed to that of “male adult”.
    Nijma, this explanation does not mean that I don’t know that mankind is nowadays often replaced by humankind in order to have a word with generic meaning.
    hate crime: this sort of crime is not limited to murder, or a less serious physical crime such as assault, but can also encompass things like desecrating cemeteries of a particular religion or writing and disseminating literature inciting hatred towards a particular group.
    woman-lynching: I had never come across this term before, and it does not sound right to me because it suggests killing of a woman by a mob, in public. When referring to a woman killed by her husband in her own home, there is no publicity and no other killer or approving abetters or spectators. It is in this context that I referred to it as a “one on one private killing”. Of course there are important societal issues bearing on this type of crime.
    Jean-Claude Romand, … committed femicide and infanticide
    He killed his wife and children, so he committed uxoricide (not a legal term at present) by killing his wife, but not strictly infanticide since this term usually applies to the killing of a newborn by its mother. Infanticide is usually committed by a woman who is not prepared for pregnancy or motherhood (eg is young and unmarried) and does not show the usual obvious signs of pregnancy (eg does not gain weight or change shape), so that nobody notices, she herself is in denial or even ignorance that she is pregnant, and when the child is born (usually very quickly and always without help) she is horrified and wants to get rid of this “foreign body” as soon as possible. In many countries this crime is considered quite distinct from murder.

  127. m-l:mankind is nowadays often replaced by humankind in order to have a word with generic meaning
    My understanding was that women, not being expected or allowed to participate in public life, were excluded intentionally and the language reflected the reality of women not being able to vote, etc.
    Of course we Viking women have always been an exception, having been expected to run the homestead singlehandedly while the guys were off in their boats doing the summer “shopping”. During the Viking rule in York, the British were amazed that Viking women went to the local markets and engaged in trade.
    LH:I don’t think that’s a good road for the law to go down
    I am curious as to why Hat doesn’t like the idea of a separate category for “hate crimes”. I can understand the difference between someone getting killed accidentally, maybe hit by a car, and an intentional killing, but I’ve never given hate crimes much thought.
    Every time there is an incident here it seems the authorities are eager to keep things quiet in order that a particular area not get a reputation as a racial trouble spot and start an out-migration of fearful people that would lower property values. Whenever there is a dead body on the street it is always said that they were killed elsewhere and the body dumped here, or that it was a gang shooting that started in another neighborhood, or if the person was local that it was a traffic accident and not a gang incident.

  128. SnowLeopard says:

    marie-lucie: You are correct that hate crimes can include property damage, such as desecration of graves in a cemetery, but, at least in the text of the statute I linked to, they do not extend to the dissemination of literature. Under US law that would be deemed an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. Although there are US civil rights statutes that do have the consequence of punishing hate speech, they are confined to specific situations, such as employment, rather than regulating behavior more generally, and the standards for successfully bringing a claim for a hostile work environment against one’s employer are relatively strict. Thus a single stray remark or joke, depending on context, usually would not support a claim, but displaying a noose or swastika probably would, especially if management failed to take swift and appropriate action to address it.

  129. marie-lucie says:

    Nijma: (about mankind = humankind)
    My understanding was that women, not being expected or allowed to participate in public life, were excluded intentionally and the language reflected the reality of women not being able to vote, etc.
    I think that words like mankind and manslaughter are older than the right to vote for just about anybody. Surely manslaughter did not exclude women from being considered victims of crime. See my comment above about the origin of the word “woman”, which does include “man” as generic.
    But it is interesting that in Victorian England, when women had hardly any rights, there was a woman on the throne, the only one who had any official say in public affairs. She did nothing to advance the rights of other women though.
    SnowLeopard: Here in Canada the list does “restrict free speech” in the manner you describe. See
    http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/hatecrimes/
    But a couple of famous cases have shown that it is extremely difficult to prosecute “hate literature” successfully.

  130. m-l: She (QV) did nothing to advance the rights of other women though.
    Though, in fairness, neither did very many others, before her death. Her daughter Princess Louise (wife of Gov. Gen. of Canada) is thought to have been a suffragist.

  131. marie-lucie says:

    AJP: neither did very many others, before her death
    True, but she was in a truly unique position.

  132. It’s unheard of — nowadays, rightly so, in my (republican) opinion — for British monarchs to unilaterally advocate, in public, social changes of that kind. Traditionally, their influence has been out of the public eye, and what we can say about QV is that she stood up for herself very successfully in an environment that was hostile to anyone who wasn’t an upper- or upper-middle-class male member of the Church of England. Think of some of the men who tried to manipulate her: Lord Melbourne, Peel, Lord Aberdeen, Palmerston, Gladstone, Disraeli, Lord Salisbury — among them some of the greatest statesmen of the nineteenth century. I think that not giving way for over 60 years against people like that created a remarkable precedent for the role of a woman in society.

  133. David Marjanović says:

    homicide was not formed as an English word by putting together Latin elements, but is an adaptation of the Latin word homicidium (not hominicidium), which is based on the root hom, not on the stem homin-.

    How does that work??? Is it seriously postclassical?

  134. marie-lucie says:

    DM: is it seriously postclassical?
    That I don’t know. If it is not actually formed directly on the root hom (which could be a back-formation from homo), it could result from the loss of the ni syllable of a possible hominicidium (as in lapicida from lapidicida by loss of the di), perhaps by analogy with the majority of the other words, where the first element usually has only two syllables (eg pa-tri–cidium).

  135. It goes back to Seneca.

  136. marie-lucie says:

    LH, You mean that it is attested for the first time in Seneca, but does it mean that he invented it? It is probable that the proliferation of -cidium words for the murder of a variety of people is a fairly late phenomenon. Can you direct me to your reference?

  137. Oh, of course he didn’t invent it, I just meant that’s the earliest attestation given in the Oxford Latin Dictionary.

  138. My Hispanic students tell me the word for murder is asasináto. They used it in connection with the Juarez killings. They don’t seem to know any specific words for killing women and even asasináto seems to be too long–they prefer crimen “crime”, and lump killings together with anything else seen on TV crime shows.

  139. One of the reasons “femicide” seems so unsatisfactory to me is the length of the word. One or two syllables would be more pithy. “Feminism” also has echoes of “femininity”–I remember auditing a university level philosophy class years ago where the students didn’t know the meaning of the word “feminist”–they thought it had something to do with femininity. Gak. How I loathe the color pink, not to mention fru-fru’s and ruffles–what kind of legacy is that?

  140. My Hispanic students tell me the word for murder is asasináto.
    Asesinato. (The legal term is homicidio.)

  141. marie-lucie says:

    Spanish asesinato has the French equivalent assassinat, which also means murder (not just murder of an important person). The perpetrators are respectively el asesino and l’assassin (both masculine gender nouns), and the verbs are Sp asesinar and Fr assassiner “to murder (somebody)”.
    These words have the same origin as hashish: the (at least semi-legendary) Hashishim are supposed to have been thugs at the service of an old chief living in a castle in a remote mountainous area, who drugged his followers with hashish before sending them on murderous rampages.

  142. David Marjanović says:

    It is probable that the proliferation of -cidium words for the murder of a variety of people is a fairly late phenomenon.

    I used to think “homicide” was an American invention, simply because all the way to this thread I had never encountered it in any other context. No equivalent exists in German. In case anyone’s interested, there’s murder, manslaughter, and reckless killing (Mord, Totschlag*, fahrlässige Tötung), and then there are only more specialized terms like Tötung zur Befriedigung des Geschlechtstriebes (“killing for fulfilling sexual urges”, not literally).
    * “Dead-beating”.

  143. Not legendary at all, except in the sense that legends grew up around them (the same is true, of course, of George Washington). There’s a decent Wikipedia article about them; the “old chief” was Hassan-i Sabbah.

  144. marie-lucie says:

    Ah, of course I should have double-checked with Wikipedia first.
    legends grew up around them
    That’s what I meant by “semi-legendary”, since there was some truth buried among the legends, or legends overlaying the truth, if you prefer, but I was not sure of which part was which.
    It looks like the hashish link is a legend after all.

  145. But killing someone *simply because he is gay* is generally intended to send a message to all the other gay (or black, Jewish, female, etc) people that “you could be next”. It’s terrorizing them. It is worse than murdering someone because you hate him, want his wife/money/job, or don’t like the way he looked at you. A hate-crime killing, proper, is directed at a *class*.

  146. asesináto/asesinato
    My students came up with asesino and asesina on their own (for murderer), but had to go to the dictionary to give a name to the crime itself. I would not have spelled it with an accent myself–the second to the last syllable would already be automatically accented–but it definitely had an accent in the dictionary. I didn’t think to check the dictionary’s publisher. Of course as always I would defer to the Hattian wisdom in this question.

  147. marie-lucie says:

    Ridger: I agree with you. A hate-crime killing is more than a single crime: it combines the murder of an individual with, by implication, uttering death threats (to the class of potential victims) and incitation to murder (to others who could be encouraged to commit murder against the same group).
    Nijma: Do other words in the dictionary have an accent in a word where the place of stress is predictable? it could be just a typo, as the accent is definitely not needed in this case. I thought that perhaps the dictionary in question marks stress in every word, but that would seem far-fetched for Spanish, where the spelling is clear enough in this respect, unlike English. I read a fair amount of Spanish and have never seen this word, or one with a comparable stress pattern, written with an accent.

  148. Ridger is right. I remember a take-back-the-night promotion that had the slogan “there is a curfew for women and it is enforced by rapists”. The same principle as the murders of the volunteers who were doing voter registration in the South back in the 60′s. Hate crimes enforce “second class citizen” behavior by setting a example of anyone who does not “know their place.”
    m-l, It has to be a typo. Spanish pronunciation is very regular; the accent mark is used when the word does not follow the rules. I was going to say my little home Spanish pocket dictionary is too small to have the word, but good heavens I have an internet connection. The first 40 or 50 google hits for the accented form of the word shows NONE of them actually being spelled with the accent.

  149. Now that I think of it, Spanish also has another way to use accents depending on word usage that has nothing to do with pronunciation. Que, cuando, donde, si, and probably some others, change their meaning somewhat, but not their pronunciation, when written with accents. I can’t think of why asesinato might fall into this class, though.
    The original reason the question was interesting was to find out if there was a separate word for killing women, maybe one that would fit into a “hate crime” context. They don’t think of the Juarez killings like that though. They were saying it’s either the mafia or someone high in the government, and lump it in with other inexplicable crimes like the story of some woman who killed her children.

  150. A nice bit from Don Quixote (spelling modernized somewhat):
    “Calla”, dixo don Quixote. “¿Y dónde has visto tu, o leído jamas, que caballero andante aya sido puesto ante la justicia por mas homicidios que hubiesse cometido?”
    “Yo no se nada de omecillos [grudges]”, respondió Sancho, “ni en mi vida le caté a ninguno [...].”

  151. marie-lucie says:

    Nijma: Spanish also has another way to use accents …. Que, cuando, donde, si, and probably some others, change their meaning somewhat, but not their pronunciation, when written with accents. I can’t think of why asesinato might fall into this class, though.
    All the words you mention, that can occur with or without accents, are grammatical words. Because of the evolution of the language, they ended up having two functional roles, and two meanings depending on whether they are stressed or not. A word with a regular, “dictionary” meaning always carries stress and therefore obeys the regular rules, according to which the default stress, normally occurring on the last but one syllable, does not need to be indicated by an “accent” when written. The word asesinato is part of the majority which follow this rule, so any stress mark on this word must be a typo.

  152. homicidios => omecillos
    femicide => demiscythe? chemitithe? theminside? emecide?
    needs work.

  153. David Marjanović says:

    I can’t think of why asesinato might fall into this class, though.

    I can: to distinguish the noun (“murder”) from the (masculine) past participle (“murdered”). Does that ever happen in Spanish?

  154. The past participle is asesinado.

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