I’m working on a novel set in 1714. While reading diaries from that general era I’ve seen the word “roger” used as a verb meaning “to copulate with.” It was also used as a noun, meaning the penis. To my American ear, this usage of the word “roger” sounds quaint, obscure and largely inoffensive, and I’ve used it a few times in the narrative.
However, I’m not sure if UK readers would react in the same way. Is the sexual meaning of “roger” still current in the UK, and if so, is it considered coarse or infantile?
It would be understood (though I’ve never heard the “penis” usage).
When I was growing up (70s and 80s) there was a cartoon called Captain Pugwash, around which several apocryphal stories grew (e.g. “Pugwash” was a naval term for a soapy wank; one of the characters was called Seaman Staines) - one of which was that there was a character called “Roger the Cabin boy”. Though this was untrue, the meaning was unambiguous to us.
“A rogering” would also be understood as a noun, in the context of “I’d like to give her a good rogering”. However, it does sound kinda 70s-sitcom to me now.
In the second season of the West Wing there’s a flashback episode showing how the president’s staff came together in the campaign. The first time Josh saw the future president Bartlet was when Bartlet was giving a Q&A session at an American legion hall in his home state of New Hampshire.
While Bartlet had been in Congress he voted against a measure that would have raised the price of milk about five cents a gallon, and a NH dairy farmer called him on that vote during his Q&A. Bartlet said, “I screwed you. I rogered ya good.”
“Roger” as a noun may be obsolete now, but in the 1720s it pretty clearly a phallic noun as well as a verb. William Byrd wrote that he caused a maid to “feel his roger,” and while in London he wrote with chagrin, “my roger would not stand with all she could do.” (Merril Smith, Sex and Sexuality in Early America, pps. 144 and 153). Byrd also uses “roger” as a verb.
“Swive” is a new one on me. Randomhouse.com says it was popular throughout the 17th and early 18th centuries, which fits well with my novel’s setting. Thanks for the tip!