Sunday, August 1, 2010
Etymology of Orgasm
Contrary to popular belief, the true etymology of orgasm is unrelated to the origin of the terms organ, organism or orgy. The etymology of orgasm reaches far back into our shared linguistic history in the Protoo-Indo-European base of *wrog and the Indo-European root *uerg-, both of which meant "to swell with strength, to burgeon." This root was then adopted in Sanskrit as ūrja, meaning "sap and vigor," especially in a sexual sense. Ūrja was then developed into the Greek terms orgé, meaning "impulse, anger" and orgasmos, meaning "swelling, excitement."
The term appears to have first been used in its modern meaning in French during the late 17th century as orgasme. Orgasm then entered the English language in the early 18th century to refer to female sexual climax. By the 20th century, orgasm was used to refer to both male and female sexual climaxes. The verb usage of the term did not appear until about 1973 shortly after the peak of the sexual revolution.
For more information about the history behind common and uncommon sexual terminology, be sure to check out The Lover's Tongue: A Merry Romp Through the Language of Love and Sex