I was prompted to this question by the question on Skeptics SE regarding sex and stretching of vaginas.

A general google search on etymology of "loose woman" did not turn up any reasonable answers for the etymology of the phrase.

What, then, is the etymology of the phrase, and does it have anything to do with the perceived "loosening" of the vagina after too much sex (implying promiscuity)?

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    loose MORALS not loose VAGINAS. – user98990 Feb 23 '15 at 7:57
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    Monday morning coffee splutter! – Marv Mills Feb 23 '15 at 9:38
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    The fact that February is almost over, and the question is being asked by someone who goes by March Ho, is just a bonus. – Erik Kowal Feb 23 '15 at 11:11
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    And some called the Countess a "loose woman" in 1643, most definitely referring to her straying for marital fidelity - babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/… – Phil M Jones Feb 23 '15 at 12:03
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    @Erik Kowal, it's too good, ain't it, man! – user98990 Feb 24 '15 at 4:23

According to Etymoline the term referring to women was first used in the 15th century. It probably derives from Old Norse 'lauss' meaning 'free, dissolute':


  • early 13c., "not securely fixed;" c.1300, "unbound," from Old Norse lauss "loose, free, vacant, dissolute," cognate with Old English leas "devoid of, false, feigned, incorrect," ......Meaning "not bundled" is late 15c. Sense of "unchaste, immoral" is recorded from late 15c.
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Don't you think it probably derives from the French: louche lo͞oSH/Submit adjective disreputable or sordid in a rakish or appealing way.

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    An interesting theory, but on the StackExchange sites, we expect answers to answer, confidently, with facts (supported by references), not speculation. – Dan Bron Sep 28 '15 at 21:13

I thought it was from woman wearing corsets and would not tie them tightly so as to be able to get out of it quickly. Loose stays.

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    Welcome to English Language & Usage! Please explain your answer, preferably with some supporting statements and references. While opinions are valued, they are not of much help as answers. – NVZ Feb 21 '17 at 11:21

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