Can you help me about the words in bold in the following passage?

The parting was emotionally charged. The Shah lost his composure, tears briefly welling in his eyes, when an officer of the Imperial Guard fell on his feet, imploring him not to leave. The scene, captured on cameras, became emblematic of an era about to end. At Supreme Command Headquarters in Lavizan, the spectrum of emotions among service chiefs ran from sobbing to locker room raving. As they watched the takeoff on television screen, one officer lay his head on Huyser’s shoulder and wept.

(from Darioush Bayandor's The Shah, the Islamic Revolution, and the United States, Palgrave Macmillan (2019))

I should add that the service chiefs of army were deeply disappointed and worried because the King, in fact their head, was leaving the country and they were watching him on TV.

  • Presumably, metaphorically, the nonsense that a members of a sports team might say when in the locker room (changing room in British English) after losing an important game that they expected to win.
    – Henry
    Jun 27, 2019 at 21:05
  • The quote seems to come from azpdf.tips/… describing the final departure of the Shah of Iran
    – Henry
    Jun 27, 2019 at 21:07
  • It's parallel to what came before, 'sobbing'. So 'locker room raving' is the same as 'raving in a locker room'.
    – Mitch
    Jun 27, 2019 at 21:48

1 Answer 1


The author is describing the emotional reactions of senior military officials to the January 1979 departure of Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi, to whom they had remained loyal.

I interpret locker room raving to refer to profanity-filled or otherwise vulgar ranting and raving. The raving is contrasted with sobbing, loud weeping; this is the reaction of officers who are angry, rather than sorrowful at the occasion.

While a locker room is in literal terms just a room with lockers in it, in the U.S., the most widely understood reference is to locker rooms in school gymnasiums. They might be called dressing rooms or changing rooms if there are no lockers per se, but at middle school and higher levels, lockers are de rigueur. It is where students change into sports/gym attire for physical education or sports practice, storing their school clothes and supplies in the locker.

This stands out as a sex-segregated space even though public schools in the U.S. are overwhelmingly coeducational. Additionally, participation in sports was encouraged only for boys until only a few decades ago. As such the locker room became associated with ribaldry and general coarseness of the sort that teenage boys indulge in when outside the view of adults or teenage girls.

  1. Relating to, found in, or appropriate for a locker room: locker-room interviews.
  2. Bawdy or crude: objected to their locker-room language.

(AHD). The OED attests to this usage from 1942. Barracks and frat house when used adjectivally have similar connotations, as do allusions to the diction and appetites of a sailor.

I should point out that in this example, the reference to the locker room probably relates to profanity, raised voices, or idle threats. In contrast, the most famous recent use of the phrase arose during the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign, when Donald Trump attempted to dismiss a leaked video of him apparently admitting to sexual assault as "locker room talk." I don't think the author intended to make any connection there.

I would also add that in the present day, with more equitable participation across genders in sports, stereotypes are evolving about boys' and girls' locker rooms—and exploration of that is outside the scope of this Stack).

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