What is the etymology of the word beaver as it relates to a woman's vagina?

  • 2
    Not to split hairs, but "beaver" refers to the pudenda, not the vagina. – Pete Wilson Apr 1 '11 at 8:00
  • 4
    My understanding was that it was because they both "eat wood" – d'alar'cop Feb 17 '14 at 10:52

Etymology Online offers that beaver in the gynecological sense is British slang dating from 1927, transferred from earlier meaning "a bearded man" (1910), or from the appearance of split beaver pelts.


In colonial times it was thought that prostitutes spread veneral diseases through contact with their pubic area, so the women were made "bald" in that area for health reasons. However, their clients did not like that look and business began to suffer. Therefore, pubic wigs, called merkins, were manufactured for the prostitutes. These merkins were made out of beaver pelts. Hence the term beaver. Learned this on a historical tour of Philadelphia.


It's almost certainly just the hairiness of both. Probably originally more associated with pubic hair anyway, which is why you now find split beaver used at an even lower level.


Green's Dictionary of Slang concurs with HaL's answer, and in addition offers a limerick, which it dates from 1927...

There was a young lady named Eva
Who went to the ball as Godiva,
But a change in the lights,
Showed a tear in her tights,
And a low fellow present yelled "Beaver"
  • 1
    Is Green's accessible online anywhere? – Callithumpian Mar 31 '11 at 22:12
  • 1
    @Callithumpian, not so far as I know. The author does remark in the introduction that it may be the last book of this type ever to be printed. – Brian Hooper Apr 1 '11 at 5:50
  • It would be funnier if it rhymed. – tchrist Mar 19 '13 at 21:21

protected by user2683 Oct 15 '12 at 8:21

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