wench

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  • GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Define "demeaning". It is not a title of respect, but then, in Shakespeare's day, how much "respect" would a peasant expect from, for example, a nobleman? Read Shakespeare carefully, and you will notice that there is always a careful distinction between persons addressed as "thee" and persons addressed as "you". Is it disrespectful for a king to call a servant "thou", when the servant addresses the king as "you"? Thus, while referring to a girl as a "wench" might not show respect, it might also not be a show of particular disrespect, either.
     

    Macunaíma

    Senior Member
    português, Brasil
    Just for the record: in some Shakespearian texts, the masculine version of a wench is a swain. It seems that in Shakespeare's time the word swain meant a young male peasant or sheperd and wench a young female peasant.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    Define "demeaning". It is not a title of respect, but then, in Shakespeare's day, how much "respect" would a peasant expect from, for example, a nobleman? Read Shakespeare carefully, and you will notice that there is always a careful distinction between persons addressed as "thee" and persons addressed as "you". Is it disrespectful for a king to call a servant "thou", when the servant addresses the king as "you"? Thus, while referring to a girl as a "wench" might not show respect, it might also not be a show of particular disrespect, either.

    My Webster's 3rd International Dictionary does not dispute that "wench" means a young girl (it is the first of 3 definitions).

    The second definition is : a lewd woman

    The third definition is: a woman of a socially low class

    It also defines "wench", as an intransitive verb, to mean: to consort with lewd woman; esp. to practice fornication.


    It does not say which definition was in use in Shakespeare's time.

    In any case, I would take care when using wench to refer to a person in current times; it could get a person a bloody nose.
     
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