Slang City Mail

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September 13, 2007
Slang of the Week: moob (noun) 
a male breast

In hopes that the other boys would have already left the locker room by the time he came in, Mark offered to help Coach Watson with the football equipment; he didn’t want anyone to see his moobs when he took off his shirt.

Celebrity quote:
“A number of middle-aged men, notably Tony Blair, have recently been photographed looking a little heavy in the moob department; soon, sure enough, men all over the country were booking into surgeries for liposuction.”
-Columnist Terrence Blacker in the Independent (UK)

Devotees of the TV show Seinfeld will remember this male “problem” from the episode in which Kramer created a male bra called the Manssiere or Bro. Both of these are portmanteau words, which combine parts of two existing terms to make a new word that encapsulates the meanings of both—in this case, man + brassiere and bra + brother.

Moob itself is a portmanteau word that combines man/male and boob (slang for breast). On an interesting side note, boob is of fairly recent vintage—the Oxford English Dictionary dates it from the 1940s; however, bubby, the word it may have ultimately come from, was in use back in 1686.

The scientific term for moobs is gynecomastia, and it is a physical feature that an increasing number of men are having plastic surgery to change. While Seinfeld fans might associate moobs with older men like George Costanza’s father, the vast majority of men electing medical procedures to reduce fat in the chest area are teenagers—close to14,000 in 2006 alone, according to the American Society of Plastic Surgeons. Presumably, teen boys with breasts, unlike their adult peers, cannot avoid compulsory physical education classes in which they must shower and change in front of their peers.

Despite the increased popularity of breast reduction, breast augmentation was the most common cosmetic surgery procedure last year, beating out nose jobs for the first time in history. Alas! If only fashion magazines would extol the virtues of flat-chested, big-nosed women and large-breasted, balding men, perhaps we could devote our time and money to something more worthwhile, like world peace.

Take a look in our bookstore for books and DVDs on all kinds of slang! This week’s pick: Learn more about what to call body parts with Bawdy Language: Everything You Always Wanted To Do But Were Afraid To Say, by Lawrence Paros.