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Another word of mysterious origins of jism, in the sense of spunk. The OED mentions it is sometimes spelled jizz, and may even be the precursor word to jazz.

jazz pix

But neither the OED nor Etymonline gives any etymology for this word. The oldest citation is from 1847, and there are many citations from the 20th century.

So where do we get the word jism from?

  • 3
    Where do tchrist's umpteen batched doubts come from? – Kris Dec 19 '13 at 6:42
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    Perhaps it may be wise to ask "where does the word jism come from" so as not to invite the most literal of answers! – Ste Dec 19 '13 at 9:17
  • Precursor to "jazz"? Yeah, possibly. Maybe that's why singer/songwriter Leonard Cohen intones "Jazz police are looking through my folders Jazz police are talking to my niece Jazz police have got their final orders Jazzer, drop your axe, it's Jazz police!" – rhetorician Dec 23 '13 at 0:08
  • Somewhat related and definitely related. – tchrist Dec 23 '13 at 14:14
  • @Ste So you’re saying that it’s related to this question, eh? :) – tchrist Dec 23 '13 at 14:24
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+50

(Not within earshot of OED: If the truth were known about the origin of the word 'Jazz' it would never be mentioned in polite society. ["Étude," Sept. 1924] )


Entirely possible that it is drawn from the Hindi जिस्म (jism):

  1. देह। बदन। शरीर। 2. २. स्त्री या पुरुष का गुप्त अंग। भग या लिंग
  2. Body. 2. Female or male genitals. Vulva or penis

?Whence,

"seminal fluid, cum," 1899; earlier "energy, strength" (1842) (etymonline)

also jissom /ˈdʒɪsəm/ vulgar slang semen. (ODO)

commentary: The Hindi word is pronounced /ˈdʒɪsm/ in formal speech and /ˈdʒɪsəm/ in regular/ vulgar use, as is the English word per ODO.

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    Its is not completely true what you have reference from Hindi Dictionary – Amit Ranjan Dec 27 '13 at 15:08
  • @AmitRanjan I'd be interested if you have anything else to cite instead. Are you quoting this from some source or is that your opinion? (Same goes about your 'answer'.) – Kris Dec 27 '13 at 15:18
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    Actuall kris it means only Human body nothing else. It has no specific relations with genitals, but its also true that such things are part of it. I am from india and its a common word here, not a slang or offensive language. Yes sometimes it sounds funny. – Amit Ranjan Dec 27 '13 at 15:22
  • We are not discussing opinions, we need to find canonical answers. Anything in support will be helpful and useful to everyone here. (While you can always post your opinions in comments, they cannot be used to post answers or to disagree with other answers, naturally?) – Kris Dec 27 '13 at 15:25
  • Balderdash, absolutely speculative answer. There is absolutely no way the US jism derives from the Hindi jism. The timelines are entirely different, and in any case the Hindi word just means "body" and is not typically used in any sexual sense. Jizz/jism is turn of the century American slang, one hardly meets it outside cheap period literature, and there is no way this is influenced by an Indian word. @Kris's own source says Creole/African. – Pranab Aug 27 '17 at 22:44
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In Ryan and Jetha's Sex at Dawn (2010, Ch. 5), they suggest that both 'jism' and 'jazz' come from the Ki-Kongo word dinza, meaning "to ejaculate", citing Robert Farris Thompson's Flash of the Spirit (1984) and Ventura's essay "Hear that Long Snake Moan" (1986).

Culturally, rooting this word in an African language seems more likely to me than in an Indian one (as is suggested in a few posts above).

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If it’s really jism then it is primarily an Urdu word that means “human body”, in common use on the Indian Subcontinent and also in some Arabic-speaking countries.

It isn’t slang or offensive there. Yes, it sounds a little bit funny, but it isn’t really.

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