Sunday, October 09, 2005

Weekend Edition: Words, Words, Words.

“Raunchy, but funny.”

That was what my older daughter said last night in answer to my question: “How was the movie?” that she had just seen with some college friends.

What struck me was not that she had seen a “raunchy” movie—I’ve made the mistake of actually going with her to a few of the Ben Stiller/Will Ferrell-gang mega-hit movies over the last couple of years, thinking maybe I’d see something other than a Saturday Night Live sketch stretched into a movie with some gratuitous breasts-popping-up-randomly-during-the-slow-bits action and the inevitable zipper-getting-stuck routine that seems to be the foundation of all teenage humor, but to no avail. I find them occasionally funny and mostly harmless.

And, well, raunchy.

And that is precisely what struck me: that the word she had used—“raunchy”—told me everything I needed to know about the movie. Just two syllables described an entire hour and a half movie in way that I understand exactly what kind of movie she'd seen.

My online dictionary shows over fifty alternatives to the word raunchy, ranging from “awkward” to “vulgarian,” as follows:

base, bawdy, blue, boorish, brutish, cheap, common, crass, crude, dirty, earthy, filthy, foul, foul-mouthed, gross, gruff, immodest, impolite, improper, impure, incult, indelicate, inelegant, loutish, low, lowbred, mean, nasty, obscene, off-color, offensive, raffish, raunchy, raw, ribald, rough, roughneck, rude, scatological, smutty, tacky, uncivil, uncouth, uncultivated, uncultured, unrefined, vulgar, vulgarian

awkward, backward, barnyard, boorish, cheap, cloddish, clumsy, coarse, crass, dirty, earthy, filthy, foul, grody, gross, ignorant, ill-bred, indecent, indelicate, inelegant, insensible, lewd, loud, loud-mouthed, loutish, lowbred, obscene, raunchy, raw, rough, rude, savage, smutty, tacky, tactless, uncouth, unpolished, unskillful

— Roget's New Millennium™ Thesaurus, First Edition (v 1.1.1)Copyright © 2005 by Lexico Publishing Group, LLC. All rights reserved.

Now, “crude” and “foul-mouthed,” along with “smutty” and “coarse” might have been accurate, but would imply the movie had nothing else going for it.

And “filthy” would be too strong for a college student’s experiences, while “dirty,” “raw” and “rough” would have implied a harsh quality the movie clearly did not possess.

“Rude,” on the other hand, would suggest the movie gave offense, which it clearly didn’t—likewise “indecent” and “obscene.”

“Inelegant,” “insensible” and “loutish” are not even close, suggesting as they do that the movie-goer expected to find some sort of redeemable feature in the flick, which is clearly not the case.

No, I don’t see a single word out of those fifty-plus that could have described the movie’s entire sensibility the way “raunchy” does.

Which is, in and of itself, interesting, or notable, or just kind of cool.

Jeff Matthews
I Am Not Making This Up

© 2005 Jeff Matthews

The content contained in this blog represents the opinions of Mr. Matthews. Mr. Matthews also acts as an advisor and clients advised by Mr. Matthews may hold either long or short positions in securities of various companies discussed in the blog based upon Mr. Matthews' recommendations.


Motts McGregor said...

William Safire had a piece on "raunch" within the last couple of weeks in the NYTimes Magazine.

BelowTheCrowd said...

So, what was the movie???

Aaron Koral said...

Jeff: Interesting post. One would think that with the decline in movie receipts this past summer, studio chiefs might want to look at whether the profits from these "raunchy" movies are worth the marketing and advertising dollars put into them.

Its_strange said...

didn't SIRI give Howard Stern BIG money for his trash ? me

aralls said...

It must have been "Waiting."

Ed said...

I have a good one for you:'s technology systems are janky.

- Ed