Big Legged Women

I was listening to Led Zep’s Black Dog, and there’s a line: “A big legged woman ain’t got no soul.” I didn’t worry about it, it’s a Zep thing, I thought. Like “a bustle in your hedgerow.”

So I’m listening to blues on webcast, and I hear this:
“She ain’t no big legged woman; she’s just my plump bottomed girl.” Hmm, seems to be a trend. Apparently big legged woman are evil. Not because of their big-leggedness- after all, a plump bottomed girl probably has largish legs as well- but just incidentally.

A Google search turns up a lot of songs that indicate, yeah, a big legged woman is a beautiful but evil woman who will cheat on you, give you no loving, and is basically low down.

My question is, what’s the etymology of this phrase? Why are big legged women evil?

If Cecil can solve ‘pompatus of love’, surely we can figure this out.


I always figured Zep was referring to what was probably left of a large woman’s shoe… ain’t got no sole.

I’ll come back and read with interest when a more enlighted poster arrives (which shouldn’t be long).

Plump bottomed ladies are not necessarily evil according to Spinal Tap.

And we all know, fat bottom girls, they make the rockin’ world go round.

The earliest instance of the BLW archetype I know of is Brownie McGhee’s Big Legged Woman from 1945:

Yeah! “Throw your big leg over me mama, I might not feel this good again.” - Professor Longhair

It seems to be a blues device that goes far back into the sands of time. Brownie McGee recorded a song by the same name near the year 1945, and from the lyrics, it can be judged that the woman is to be admired, but is not inherently evil. My best guess is that ‘big legged’ refers to some sort of Reubenesque ideal, and bluesman have been borrowing this device for decades. The idea that attractive women may also be the vehicles of a man’s downfall is also common; IMOH you have a mating of these two themes.

Your one stop big legged evil devil chicks shop.

Sorry I can’t offer anything else.

Hmmm, I always interpreted “big-legged” to mean “long-legged” and that for a die hard leg man, the women possessing long legs would have been irresistable. Looks like I have some research to do.

The funniest Onion article of all time (which isn’t archived) is “Blues Singer’s Woman allowed to tell her side of the story” and the article is done like a blues song. The lady is described as a “Big-legged, short-dressed, brown-skinned woman”. So I think Led Zep was ripping off earlier blues artists with that phrase.

Wow. I always thought the Zeppelin line was “been-laid woman”, meaning an experienced and perhaps jaded woman rather than a sweet innocent virgin, and that the lyric was just hard to hear correctly (like CCR’s “bathroom on the right”). Was I the only one fooled?

Yue Han, think Kegels, all the way to the knees…

I, of course, got all the Led Zepplin lyrics right. <<-:rolleyes:

Quite a timely reply after 13 years )
Urban Dictionary says:

Big Legs
To “do the big legs” is to eat at a restaurant and run away without paying.

So to my understanding, in blues lyrics the term “big legged woman” means a woman who shows off very promising behavior to a man to make him pay for her, but after she does not let a man get any closer. Here where I live in Ukrainian/Russian such women are called “dynamo” -don’t know why btw )

zombie or no

Big Leg Emma was wonderous.

On West, Bruce, and Laing, Jack Bruce sang, "Big leg women’s/ All I crave/Big leg woman gonna carry me/ To my grave.

And of course Frank Zappa sang:

I got a big dilemma 'bout my Big Leg Emma, uh-huh, uh-huh.
I got a big dilemma 'bout my Big Leg Emma, uh-huh, uh-huh.
She was my steady date until she put on weight, uh-huh, uh-huh.

Another singer, Joe Tex, did a song called Skinny Legs And All, which ridiculed girls with skinny legs.

Johnnie Temple recorded Big Leg Woman in 1938, so it goes back at least that far.

Brother Taj Mahal explains it all for you here.

(BTW, this is off his incredible album *The Real Thing* which has not only a the greatest rhythm section that includes a (former) NY Congressman but also FIVE TUBAS all at once, all of 'em making the Fillmore ring like a bell. Just saying.)



Although the question is on etymology, since nearly all the references are to songs let’s move this to Cafe Society (which didn’t exist when this thread was started 13 years ago).

General Questions Moderator

Oh yeah! Taj Mahal likes his women big! Listen to him sing about thoseBig Legged Mommas!“Gimme some wd40 gonna oil my spring. My back is made of whalebone I’m gon’ make you sing.”