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  #1  
Old 02-28-2004, 06:21 PM
Loopydude Loopydude is offline
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"Blowing your wad"...obscene?

So the other night I'm out with my wife and another couple, and I'm outnumbered three theater types to one scientist. Most of the time I don't even know what they're talking about, but I have seen "Cabaret". That show kind of bored me. Really, I thought the best tune, you know, the one tune in the show that's supposed to lodge in your head, was the first one, that "Willkommen, Bienvenu, Welcome" thing.

So, going into knows-not-what-the-hell-he-speaketh theater critic mode, I say something like "I thought the show kinda blew its wad with the first number, and dragged after that." I get dumbfounded stares. After some giggling I'm told I've used a porn phrase. Now, I know about the "other" meaning of "blowing your wad", but I thought there was a rated G definition, which meant, you know, spending all your capitol in one go and having nothing left for later. I figured it came from the idea of having a wad of cash and, well, blowing it, spending it all at once and frivolously. Am I wrong about this?
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  #2  
Old 02-28-2004, 06:45 PM
Duderdude2 Duderdude2 is offline
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All I know is that everytime I've heard said statement, it was used in the porn type way.
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  #3  
Old 02-28-2004, 06:49 PM
Squink Squink is offline
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You're right.
Quote:
blow your wad
• To ejaculate, to indicate surprise or excitement John blew his wad when he won the lottery John blew his wad when he saw mary naked.
• To spend all of your money John took Mary out and blew his wad on an expensive meal.
http://www.notam02.no/~hcholm/altlang/ht/English.html

The second meaning has been around since at least the early sixties, so your friends are way behind the times.
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  #4  
Old 02-28-2004, 06:53 PM
Gern Blanston Gern Blanston is offline
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I think there is a distinction due to the possessive. If I go to the racetrack and blow A wad, my wife barely flinches. If my horse comes in and I blow MY wad, she gives me a dirty look.
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  #5  
Old 02-28-2004, 07:17 PM
Harriet the Spry Harriet the Spry is offline
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I admit to having been pretty taken aback a couple of times when men have used this phrase (I think usually saying "shot my wad") in some clearly g-rated business conversations.

I knew they were speaking metaphorically, and just tried to get past any type of image.

"That word, it does not mean what you think it means."
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  #6  
Old 02-28-2004, 07:42 PM
peri peri is offline
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I always think of blowing one's wad as using all your resources. Shooting one's wad, on the other hand, definitely has sexual connotations.
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  #7  
Old 02-28-2004, 07:50 PM
Dahnlor Dahnlor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopydude
"I thought the show kinda blew its wad with the first number, and dragged after that."
Choosing between the two definitions provided by Squink, your usage there is a lot closer to the first, more naughty one. You're essentially replacing the word "climaxed" with that phrase. If it was clear you meant that they "spent all their money" on that first scene, you probably could have gotten away with it.


D
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  #8  
Old 02-28-2004, 07:57 PM
YWalker YWalker is offline
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Oh, Loopydude, I feel your pain.

I had the exact same thing happen to me years ago when I was in grad school. I'm female, and I was a mechanical engineering major. Having been surrounded by guys for several years during my studies, I started to pick up some of their figures of speech.

During a staff meeting where we were planning out the programming for a public education seminar we were giving, one of my co-workers had proposed including sub-topics for essentially every program we were currently offering. I was concerned that if we did that, we wouldn't have any new material at our next seminar. I said "Yes, but if we do that, won't we be pretty much shooting our wad at our first seminar?"

There was dead silence, with wide open eyes staring at me from all directions, which was broken by the nervous tittering of the co-worker who had brought it up. (Did I mention that she was a Methodist bishop's wife?)

And that was the first time I ever stopped to wonder about the etymology of the phrase "shooting one's wad." (Hey, I was still a virgin at the time. I think that was what really prompted the shocked looks from all sides --- "Our innocent young lady using a pornographic phrase?")
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  #9  
Old 02-28-2004, 08:19 PM
SlyFrog SlyFrog is offline
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This is a wierd one, and I have heard a lot of different phrasings that make it a little cleaner:

"Blew through the wad"

"Shot his bolt" (which I believe is a crossbow metaphor; once you've fired it, you aren't reloading in time to stop the nasty guy from hacking you up, so if you didn't make the shot good, you are done for)

"Fired the Surgeon General" or "Gave the Surgeon General a dishonorable discharge"; okay, I guess I went to far when I said that one in my last board meeting.
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  #10  
Old 02-28-2004, 08:38 PM
Loopydude Loopydude is offline
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Now, if somebody say "shot his wad" or "shot his load", I'd figure they were talking about...y'know. To "shoot" something and to "blow" something are not, in my mind, the same thing in every instance.

I've never heard "shot his bolt". I have to say, I'd be scratching my head over that one, because the crossbow reference would never have occurred to me. I like it, though!

Now, on "wad": It does refer to a wad of cash, right? A big roll of bills? I mean, was the original meaning that or, er, spunk?
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  #11  
Old 02-28-2004, 09:21 PM
Dahnlor Dahnlor is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopydude
Now, if somebody say "shot his wad" or "shot his load", I'd figure they were talking about...y'know. To "shoot" something and to "blow" something are not, in my mind, the same thing in every instance.
Yes, to "shoot" is much more specific than "blow". "Blow" can mean "waste", which is definitely something that can be done to money, but it still can mean "explode", which is definitely something you do when... er... let's move on.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Loopydude
Now, on "wad": It does refer to a wad of cash, right? A big roll of bills? I mean, was the original meaning that or, er, spunk?
Yes, when you specifically mean money, a "wad" is a stack of cash. To say "that guy was carrying a large wad around the pool hall" would mean the guy was brandishing a lot of money. That same guy could "blow" that money by losing a few games.

However, a "wad" can also describe something that is explosively expelled (lending itself to both "shoot" and "blow") when... er... well, you know.


D
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  #12  
Old 02-28-2004, 09:37 PM
Ringo Ringo is offline
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Perhaps there's regional, or subcultural variations in people's perceptions. I hear "shot his wad," or, more commonly "shot their wad" in business conversations often, and it is never perceived to mean anything other than they spent what they had to spend. I also hear that company X "has a hard-on" for company Y and nobody is in doubt that it means anything other than that company X has had stormy dealings with company Y and will likely not cooperate with them.
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  #13  
Old 02-28-2004, 09:40 PM
samclem samclem is offline
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From the OED
Quote:
b. In fig. phr. to shoot one's wad, to do all that one can do. Cf. to have shot one's bolt s.v. SHOOT v. 21b. colloq. (chiefly U.S.).

1914 Dialect Notes IV. 112 Shoot one's wad, to do or say what one can. 1970 A. CAMERON et al. Computers & O.E. Concordances 31 Well, I'm really not an expert on it. I've practically shot my wad. 1971 B. MALAMUD Tenants 8, I want to be thought of as a going concern, not a freak who had published a good first novel and shot his wad.
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  #14  
Old 02-28-2004, 09:52 PM
Loopydude Loopydude is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ringo
Perhaps there's regional, or subcultural variations in people's perceptions. I hear "shot his wad," or, more commonly "shot their wad" in business conversations often, and it is never perceived to mean anything other than they spent what they had to spend. I also hear that company X "has a hard-on" for company Y and nobody is in doubt that it means anything other than that company X has had stormy dealings with company Y and will likely not cooperate with them.
You're kidding, right? "Has a hard-on for" means to "be in a conflict with"? Good gawd, if I heard that at work I'd A) spit my coffee out, and then B) figure company Y was really keen on, ehhh, a "merger" with company X.

Then again, "boner" can mean a mistake. One of my friends' dad said that once while playing whiffle-ball...I miss the ball and accidently send the bat flying, and he says "Oh, what a boner!" I almost peed my pants.
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  #15  
Old 02-28-2004, 09:52 PM
porkchop_d_clown porkchop_d_clown is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Harriet the Spry
I admit to having been pretty taken aback a couple of times when men have used this phrase (I think usually saying "shot my wad") in some clearly g-rated business conversations.

I knew they were speaking metaphorically, and just tried to get past any type of image.

"That word, it does not mean what you think it means."
What image?

Sorry, but I'm used to "wad" being a fat lump of cash and "blowing your wad" means going through all your cash. Since I don't watch pr0n I've never heard the term used any other way.
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  #16  
Old 02-28-2004, 09:53 PM
Ravenman Ravenman is online now
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Aside from the sexual meaning, I had always thought that the phrase had something to do with old cannons or muskets -- where you had to put in gunpower, wadding, your projectile, and more wadding. I'm not exactly sure how one can blow or shoot the wadding without shooting the projectile, but it sounds like a good enough story to explain that it is a phrase that can be used in nice company.
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  #17  
Old 02-28-2004, 10:28 PM
Ringo Ringo is offline
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No, I'm not kidding. And I've heard both professional men and women use both phrases. The board's quite the cultural crossroads, isn't it?

I remember a thread several years ago that revealed quite divergent understandings of "skanky." And another regarding "shag" (where I grew up it was used to mean to retrieve balls sent off into the weeds during athletic practice, hence the quite innocent "shag balls").
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  #18  
Old 02-28-2004, 11:23 PM
gbrohman gbrohman is offline
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[QUOTE=Loopydude]So the other night I'm out with my wife and another couple, and I'm outnumbered three theater types to one scientist.

So, going into knows-not-what-the-hell-he-speaketh theater critic mode, I say something like "I thought the show kinda blew its wad with the first number, and dragged after that." I get dumbfounded stares. After some giggling I'm told I've used a porn phrase.
Good God what would happen if you used the phrase it "Sucked"! (Sucks)(sux)
I think school teachers are using that one today, And unless I am stupid it only means 1 thing.
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  #19  
Old 02-29-2004, 12:45 AM
danceswithcats danceswithcats is offline
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Ravenman comes very close to describing the etymology.

Muzzle loaded weapons first receive a powder charge, then sometimes a wadding or wad, and finally the projectile, wadding more common with black powder applications, IIRC.

A search for wad reveals:wad - 1540, "soft material for padding or stuffing," of uncertain origin, perhaps connected to M.L. wadda, Du. watten, or M.E. wadmal (1392) "woolen cloth," from O.N. vağmal "a woolen fabric of Scandinavia," probably from vağ "cloth" + mal "measure." The meaning "bundle of currency" is Amer.Eng., 1778. The verb is first recorded 1579.

So, whether the projectile be weaponry, monetary, mental, or penile, taking aim at a target and discharging the appropriate *ahem* armament is said to be "shooting one's wad."
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  #20  
Old 02-29-2004, 10:18 AM
SlyFrog SlyFrog is offline
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Incidentally, another possible origin I have heard is that in the heat of battle, one would often forget to accomplish every part of the drill necessary to fire a weapon (put in powder, put in wad, put in bullet, etc.). Because soldiers often forgot to put in the bullet, they would fire the gun and "shoot the wad", basically meaning that they would fire it off harmlessly with no effect.
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  #21  
Old 02-29-2004, 12:59 PM
porkchop_d_clown porkchop_d_clown is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlyFrog
Incidentally, another possible origin I have heard is that in the heat of battle, one would often forget to accomplish every part of the drill necessary to fire a weapon (put in powder, put in wad, put in bullet, etc.). Because soldiers often forgot to put in the bullet, they would fire the gun and "shoot the wad", basically meaning that they would fire it off harmlessly with no effect.
That was the story I heard, too. Unfortunately, I can't really say whether it's true or, like so many cute entymologies, it's just a legend.
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  #22  
Old 02-29-2004, 01:42 PM
Wumpus Wumpus is offline
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Certainly I grew up with both "shot his wad" (did all he could) and "blew his wad" (spent all his money) being G-rated phrases. Given the history of the word "wad" it's pretty clear the pr0n meaning came from the G-rated phrase, not vice versa.

Now what's *really* interesting is the way you're beginning to find the phrase "money shot" in places like the New York Times.....
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  #23  
Old 02-29-2004, 01:45 PM
Excalibre Excalibre is offline
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Whatever the origin of the phrase or phrases in question, all of them would bring sexual connotations to my mind. Perhaps I'm dirty-minded, but I don't watch porn, and I still always assumed "to blow ones wad" and "to shoot ones wad" were metaphors for male ejaculation. Even if that's not their origin, though, I'd be careful using them; I make sure not to use those phrases in polite company or in front of my mom.

The real issue here, though, is your dismissal of one of the greatest works in musical theater - why, just thinking about it has "Life is a Cabaret" going through my head right now. *tsk tsk tsk*
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  #24  
Old 02-29-2004, 05:51 PM
YWalker YWalker is offline
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Honestly, I had heard the term "Shot their wad" quite a bit, and never thought that it had any sexual connotations until that ill-fated staff meeting.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ringo
No, I'm not kidding. And I've heard both professional men and women use both phrases. The board's quite the cultural crossroads, isn't it?

I remember a thread several years ago that revealed quite divergent understandings of "skanky." And another regarding "shag" (where I grew up it was used to mean to retrieve balls sent off into the weeds during athletic practice, hence the quite innocent "shag balls").
In North Carolina, "shag" also refers to a type of dancing. We had some Brit friends that nearly killed themselves laughing a few years ago at a picture in the newspaper that was captioned "Governor judges shagging contest", and sent copies to all their friends back home.
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  #25  
Old 02-29-2004, 07:09 PM
Omnipresent Omnipresent is offline
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I believe it "means", "being done". It may be derived from spewing all over someone's face but, it have the meaning of "being done".

So, I belive that you are correct that the show was "done" after the first number.

If that offends someone, it's THEIR problem.
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  #26  
Old 02-29-2004, 07:43 PM
Race Bannon Race Bannon is offline
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I have to say that I always thought the phrase came from the gunnery connotation. I grew up in a rural area, and used to hunt. Sometimes if you shoot your shotgun high and into the wind, the "wad" (a plastic thing) will actually blow back and land nearby.

I thought the porn thing came later.
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  #27  
Old 02-29-2004, 08:52 PM
danceswithcats danceswithcats is offline
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Since we're about fighting ignorance, one fine point note:

Quote:
That was the story I heard, too. Unfortunately, I can't really say whether it's true or, like so many cute entymologies, it's just a legend.
Cute entymolgies would refer to insects that one views as attractive. If it's language and linguistic form about which you speak, etymologies would apply.
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  #28  
Old 03-01-2004, 12:38 PM
Renob Renob is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SlyFrog
Incidentally, another possible origin I have heard is that in the heat of battle, one would often forget to accomplish every part of the drill necessary to fire a weapon (put in powder, put in wad, put in bullet, etc.). Because soldiers often forgot to put in the bullet, they would fire the gun and "shoot the wad", basically meaning that they would fire it off harmlessly with no effect.
As someone who grew up around muzzle loading weaponry, this was always the explanation given for that phrase. From the prevalence of the phrase, I'm more inclined to believe that it's been around much longer than the wide availability of porno movies (which date from what, the late 60's at most?). Hell, my grandpa uses the phrase, and he's certainly not the one to either watch porn and pick up phrases from them or to use phrases of relatively recent origin.
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