Date: Tue, 25 Nov 1997 14:32:32 EST


Subject: Re: G-string

Ode on the G(ee) string, cont'd:

We don't seem to have pinned it down, do we? The earliest citations all

seem to refer to the article of (male?) Native Americans' attire and those

earliest references all have the fuller spelling, gee(-)string. (These are

from the 1870's through the turn of the century.) The first "G-string" is

cited (or should I say, barely sighted) in 1891: "Some of the boys wore only

'G-strings' (as, for some reason, the breech-clout [sic] is commonly called on

the prairie)." (Harper's Magazine) The parenthetical in that citations

suggests any euphemistic understanding (G for genitalia, or whatever) was not

necessarily standard (compare "gee" for "Jesus"), and the later transfer of

the term (I think more often with the G string orthography) doesn't have a

cite earlier than 1936 (Dos Passos), although I expect the OED might have

missed the relevant publications for that use (= 'a similar piece of material

worn by show-girls, strip-tease artists, etc.'). My guess is that

"gee string" came first, although I can't find any of the 10 or so listings for

nominal or verbal "gee" that offer a plausible derivation; then "G string" re-

sults from a loss of transparency (what IS a gee, anyway?), driven by the

existence of the musical item, that slender and dainty fourth string on the

violin, third string on the cello, guitar, or viola, or first string on the

bass (most of which I just learned from the OED entry). But what was that