You're wrong about "cum," Dan. Linguistically and historically cum is shortened from scum. A condom was a "scumbag," hence the derogatory term. You'll find a tiny little bit of Internet evidence—with actual citations—here. So using cum (or scum) is perfectly OK, and if anything come (as a noun) is the more recent/improper use. Just figured I'd tell you as it is a fun bit of trivia.—HH

NOOOOOOO! I hate you, HH, you and your facts and your citations. More reader thoughts on cum v. come... after the jump...


You're a journalist; do you find the alternate spelling "lede" repellent? After all, there was a perfectly cromulent word, "lead," that existed long before.

I understand that you find the "cum" spelling off-putting (I do too... it's just silly and faux-dirty, with immature overtones). But your examples are flaccid at best. The erotic meaning of "suck" is hardly different from its regular meaning. The word "dick" sounds sexual no matter what, evoking the male member no matter the context (let's face it, the forename is a thing of the past). Moreover, neither word is integral to everyday speech, and both are certainly avoided in "polite" conversation. (Well, depending on your vocation!)

The word "come," on the other hand, is one of the most essential words in the English language. Its sexual meaning bears absolutely no cognitive relation to that of the locomotive action. I think the alternate spelling is a defense mechanism: there are many who might not want the sexual act to enter one's consciousness every time they read this innocuous, utterly necessary verb. When I'm in church and hear the words "...until Christ comes again," well, let's just say I'd rather have purer thoughts on my mind. (My friend Joy tells me she feels the same way.)

Plus, there are far more entertaining topics which meld the subjects of language and sex, such as, the proper plural of "dildo." (I'm fond of "dildi" myself.) And is it proper to use "buttocks" in the singular, as in "he has a nice buttocks"? And can we please, PLEASE eradicate all use of "penis" except in a medical context? It's such a puny, diminutive word, antithetical to thoughts of sexual arousal.


P.S. My partner Jim, who was raised Catholic, just reminded me of the "ejaculations" he had to learn and recite in grade school. I think they're now just called "prayers."


In response to this comment in your most recent column:

"Cum" is not a word. We don't have three-letter alternate spellings for other four-letter words that have double meanings. You wouldn't write "I know this guy who sucks and he's a mean dick, but he's so fucking hot, I want to suk his dik." The proper spelling of "come" works just fine too.

Nor does English require that all homophones be spelled the same. There are many examples of homophones that could be called "three-letter alternate spellings for other four-letter words".
Aid/aide, beau/bow, earn/urn, flew/flu, four/for, knot/not, etc.

Annoyed With You