Lover Word

Late in the day in yesterday’s comments section for the post “Word Lover”, Clyde had an interesting observation that some may have missed, so I’ll repeat it here:

True, there seems to be a missing word. “Master” is the logical choice, but the powerful connotations of that word really don’t line up with what we think of as “mistress” role. We have to think again.

For sheer economy, it’s hard to top “Misteress”. But I’m guessing most people wouldn’t catch the slight difference in pronunciation. The Urban Dictionary says the right word is “Manstress“. That’s better, but still wrong to my ear. I hear “Manstress” as your male friend who is agonizing to be around.

The commentators across the pond at Yahoo Answers in the UK and Ireland had some better ideas. I like “Histress”, “Consort” and “Kept Man”.

But still, none of these strike me as carrying the same quality of ownership as “Mistress”. As Clyde points out, that fact that a man HAS a mistress carries some added significance. Why doesn’t the mistress HAVE the man?

Some say the absence of a proper word for this relationship is the result of centuries of male domination – women haven’t possessed the power to play the same role in the relationship as a man does with his mistress. The fact that we’re talking about it now may indicate that times have changed enough to make the coining of a new word possible.

That means this is a moment of great opportunity!

I can think of at least one contemporary reference that may have enough unique strengths to carry forward as the new term for a man who is in an inappropriate relationship with a powerful woman who is not his wife. But I’m not sure we are really ready to hear this:

“That man isn’t her husband. Don’t you know? The rumor is she has a brodkorb.”

What makes a coined word or phrase catch on and become part of the language?

84 thoughts on “Lover Word”

  1. I think a word or phrase has a better chance of catching on if it is fun and/or easy to say, like “frenemy” or “nerd”. Which is why the “brodkorb” idea might not fly, I’m afraid. I don’t know what an equivalent word for a male version of the “mistress” would be, but my friends and I like “himbo”. We’ve sort of come to use that as the accepted description of a man in that position, even though I doubt it has a place alongside “mistress” in terms of proper usage. It conveys the concept fairly well, and it sure is fun to say!


  2. good question . the brodkorb offering is unfortunate in that it doesnt roll off the tounge, there is no hook to stick it in your brain and he himself is not a kept man sort of image like you would imagine. kind of like arnold schwartzenager and his mistress(?) housekeeper mother of…. lets drop that one, but why would he do that? wonder more like what were they thinking to jepordize their position for that? that question in reality should be asked but in some instances it is obvious what they were thinking. brodkorb…it must have been a late nite and a bottle of red wine on a road trip to the super 8 in albert lea is kind of what i’m thinking. you think giggilo like midnight cowboy but not any good examples of a married powerful rich woman who has a man tucked away for appearance her beckon call and the need for a hugh grant looking guy with a hottie who does this is what we are in need of. amy koch … cmon, brodkorb is perfect but for a true example , maybe modanna or cher is close with their being open about a relationship with a guy who is not fighting for the limelight but i think we need to have a demi moore without the star quality of ashtion kutcher. lets go digging in michelle bachmann and sarah palins closet. i think the other way to jusice it up is to tweak the name. simple little thing like broadknob is much more appropriate than brodkorb dont you think? yeah shes keeping a broadknob that hussy. its got a ring to it.


  3. This “himbo” and “brodkorb” notion arises from political discomfort. That is, some folks are bothered by the lack of a word to balance out “mistress.” My sense is that words invented this way rarely catch on. Words that catch on are usually coined to refer to something we need to talk about that doesn’t have a name already. “Texting” has entered the language because it refers to something we need to discuss and for which there was no name.

    What a gorgeous day!


  4. Rise and Define Baboons!

    Ooooh, defining and manufacturing new words is so fun. Our entire Glossary is full of Baboonish verbal nonsense. And good sense, too.

    Himbo certainly must be the term though, for the male mistress. . It is just soooo…..descriptive. And deliciously off center. Brodkorb here in Minnesota does have great possibilities, though. It is a German term meaning Bread Basket. So here in the American Midwest, that noted Breadbasket of the World, Amy Koch (Cook), Senate leader of some notable heft, finds her true love in the Brodkorb (breadbasket).

    And so I cannot resist this final statement in seductive poor taste. I always knew the Cook was sampling the breadbasket. And she probably overate.

    Snark, snark, snark. I will be chortling all day over this wordplay.


      1. I am sure they could attempt it. However, the obvious consequences of such overeating and nibbling might make the physical exertion required life-threatening.


        1. I might note that I myself hiked only a mile of the Appalachian Trail myself with the wasband. A steeply shaded, rocky and rutted trail it is. Not for the feint-hearted nor for the chubby-cheeked walker. As I was headed down that trail I thought better of this diversion, then retreated before any real hiking was accomplished! It was too much for me. There was no place for a himbo, tempting a treat as they were (yes they–in a small town, an attractive young woman seperated from her husband is light to the bugs).

          There could be an entire blog post in that experience.


        2. Jacque Not only is there a blog in the experience, there is a book. I don’t know how to do underlines here, so I’ll do it this way: “A Walk in the Woods” by Bill Bryson. It is the funniest book I’ve read in many years.


  5. I agree with Steve, that words seldom catch on this way. Nobody has coined a word, though many have tried, for she/he or him/her. I have always been interested in what language is, how it works and does not, and mostly what language says about its users. At the U I was offerred a graduate fellowship in linguistics. I seldom look back in longing, but on that topic I do. I was in that longing mood when I wrote that entry yesterday. My thought on this was triggered by the post above that one about religious people being happier and my wonder that anyone thinks that question can be studied objectively. We have much the same question with the semantics and lexicography branches of linguistics. I used the word “inappropriate” to define the person we are trying to define. Go ahead, define the word mistress or our new word without judging the relationship. Reading Tess of the D’Urbervilles kicked off the question of what is ans is not a victim.
    All too philosophical for Saturday morning. Did I just judge Saturday as an inferior or a superior day?
    My comic tries: mustard, mattress, materde (In honor of the French researchers), rumple, bit of staff (in honor of the English), hausmann or pfefferneus (in honor of the Germans), mouse, humbre (in honor of Spanish), lutefisk, pop tart, gluten, bargeman, baron, rook, rib, Adam, Capulet, Rex, shoehorn, rabbit, porcupine, pottery class, Richard, John Boy.


        1. Yes, we’re back, exhausted but well fed (another blog topic) and happy to have made the trip.


        1. …and then, if you’re our granddaughter, you say at the end of your little joke, “GET IT?”


  6. Good morning to all. I don’t have time this morning to give the interesting question of the day the attention it deserves. I’m not sure that the relationship between men and women has changed enough to create a real meaning full word that is the equivilent for mistress for a man. I think new words get meaning when they are connected to change such as all the new words we have due to now having computers or words connected to new youth culture. We have considerably more awareness of women not being treated as the equal of men than we did not too long ago, but, when it comes to fully equal roles for woman and men, this is still a work in progress.


  7. I agree that it has to “roll off the tongue”, and also an elusive memorable quality, or we will forget it. So far I believe himbo is unforgettable.


  8. I hope you all noticed Dale’s clever title of the last two days.
    I have to put my mind in a new place and start on a sermon. It’s good old Doubtinh thomas Sunda. Oh, how I do not like this Sunday’s set of texts.
    Good weekend all.


  9. Oohhh – I love evocative topics! Or is it provocative? Or both? At any rate I will now offer a word I made up once I got over being envious off all the evocative/provocative contributions posted before I was out of bed. Here it is: MASTERBAITER … or its derivative: MASTERBAITMAN. Or yet another: Masterbait-HeMan. Take your pick. They’re all free and they don’t require batteries!

    Hugs All!


  10. My friends and I made up the word “boinked.” We thought we were so cool. We also made up the word “geek.” This was in 1980 before these words were commonplace. I know you don’t believe me, but it’s true.

    I like “manmess.” Good one, PJ!


      1. Hm. Well. I’ll have to think on that one. The guy who fixes my gutters (doors, windows, deck, garage door opener, etc.) calls himself “Tex Anderson, Handyman.”


        1. There is the handyman that comes in the front door and the one the one that comes in the back door who is also known as the back door man. The back door man comes in from the back when the husband leaves out the front door.


  11. Back Door Man lyrics

    Wha, yeah!
    C’mon, yeah
    Yeah, c’mon, yeah
    Yeah, c’mon
    Oh, yeah, ma
    Yeah, I’m a back door man
    I’m a back door man
    The men don’t know
    But the little girl understand
    Hey, all you people that tryin’ to sleep
    I’m out to make it with my midnight dream, yeah
    ‘Cause I’m a back door man
    The men don’t know
    But the little girls understand
    [From: ]
    All right, yeah
    You men eat your dinner
    Eat your pork and beans
    I eat more chicken
    Than any man ever seen, yeah, yeah
    I’m a back door man, wha
    The men don’t know
    But the little girls understand
    Well, I’m a back door man
    I’m a back door man
    Whoa, baby, I’m a back door man
    The men don’t know
    But the little girls understand


  12. How about DemiMan? It sort of fits the incomplete package of services he provides. (I’ll bet he doesn’t take out the garbage).


      1. Welcome, Bill!

        I always thought he was saying “Come Mister Tallyman”, but it sounded more like Dallyman or Dollyman – hey, maybe one of those.


      1. Seminility is what he signed on for, to be sure. I was trying to allude to demimonde. I think that’s why I keep hearing Harry Belafonte. I want it to be pronounced “DemiMon”.


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