A History Of “Sl#tb*g,” the Latest Unflattering Word Associated With Anthony Weiner

His communications director leveled this insult at a former intern who has been penning insider takes on the campaign.

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Eric Thayer / Reuters

New York City mayoral candidate Anthony Weiner and his wife Huma Abedin attend a news conference in New York City on July 23, 2013

Some insults just never go out of style. A century before Shakespeare shuffled onto this mortal coil, people were calling women sluts—to imply that they are foul slatterns—dirty and slovenly!—or women of loose character, likely to give it up on a first date. As with almost any word that’s been en vogue since the Middle Ages, people have adapted it into various compounds, like “slut hut” (a brothel), “slut-pup” (a female dog) or “slut-hole” (a trash can). And, as top aide for Anthony Weiner reminded everyone, there is always “slutbag.”

A former intern for the New York mayoral candidate, Olivia Nuzzi, has been penning unflattering insider takes on the campaign. One ran on the NSFWCorp’s blog on Sunday; another piece ran in the New York Daily News on Tuesday. NSFW, appropriately, stands for “Not Safe For Work”: When reporters from Talking Points Memo called up the Weiner campaign for comment on the articles yesterday, communications director Barbara Morgan let the NSFW words fly. “Slutbag” was one in a long list of epithets Morgan leveled at Nuzzi. But it was certainly the most colorful, the only insult that wouldn’t have appeared on Family Feud’s board of “Something You Call a Woman You Would Like to Throw Off a Moving Train.”

In the noisy, hungry world of social media, any unexpected word-in-the-news catches fire like a propane tank. Take a look at this chart from social media analytics site Brandwatch that shows how mentions have spiked over the past 24 hours:

chart_slutbag_from_24 Jul_to_31 Jul_952px

Brandwatch

In recent years, the word slut has been the center of feminist controversy, with ladies taking to the streets in organized “SlutWalks” in hopes of reclaiming the term—like black people reclaimed the n-word and the gay community took back the word queer. The worldwide movement was a response to the idea that scantily dressed women who were sexually assaulted somehow “deserved it.” But despite the popularity of the marches, the word is still pejorative. If a woman walked up to her female friend and exclaimed, “Hey, you big slut!” it remains unlikely her friend would respond with a solidarity fist bump.

It’s natural that an insulting word like slut would take on the suffix –bag, which is attached to plenty of other insulting terms, from windbag—popular since the 1800s—to douchebag to scumbag, first slang for a condom and then for a base, detestable person. (Less insulting terms have popularized the suffix, too. Rich guys have been “moneybags” since the 1700s. People of various eras have used nosebags, gamebags, carpetbags and mailbags.) The word bag itself is derogatory slang for an unfortunate-looking older woman—much like baggage, which according to the Oxford English Dictionary, has referred to a “worthless good-for-nothing woman” or “strumpet” since the 1600s. (Linguist Ben Zimmer does a nice rundown of the history of “bag” terms on Language Log.)

Slutbag appears in a dictionary of gay slang from 2004, alongside “slapper” and “whorella” and in Life Without Instruction, a play by Sally Clark from the early 1990s. (“She’s a right slutbag. Gets that from me. When she started her brothel—I was her first customer!”) The term gained some pop-culture cred after being used in Brittany Murphy’s 2003 comedy Uptown Girls. In the last decade, the word has also been thrown at the likes of Lindsay Lohan and True Blood‘s Sookie Stackhouse; American Idol’s Adam Lambert even used it to describe himself in 2009 Details interview. Which is all to say, though some political wonks may be hearing the term for the first time, slutbag has long gotten around.

These most recent Weiner events have already been dubbed “slutbag-gate.” And if that sticks, there’s certainly a chance slutbag will enjoy far more than  the 15-minutes of fame the invective is getting now.

This is an edition of Wednesday Words, a weekly feature on language. For the previous post, click here.

47 comments
anti-government
anti-government

The better word to describe any critic of Mr. Weiner is "intelligent".

Liberal or Conservative, Anarchist or even Communist or Nazi, we can all agree that Anthony Weiner is unfit for public office.

FrankBlank
FrankBlank

The better word is Sh#tb*g, which is an accurate description of Newt "The Profoundly Grotesque" Gingrich. 

Stewie
Stewie

Katy, you might have actually had something to say, but when you crash your car in the first line, that's all anyone notices!. Good luck with your resume!... I hear nursing is expanding!... Oh wait... They want English..... Ah well, Wal-Mart awaits!..

Stewie
Stewie

The phrase is 'shuffled OFF THIS (his) mortal coil'... Holy crap!... Back to ye olde skool for ye, Katy, that ye may learn

the bard's language!... I wouldn't be evoking (look it up) Shakespeare again, or you may find him haunting you!...

I didn't even TAKE english in college... Guess that means I could be your boss!...LOL...

bigjc
bigjc

Time, your standards are dropping.  "Shuffled onto this mortal coil"?  No.  Just no.  Look it up. 

This isn't just poor, it's WRONG usage of a phrase that anyone with a grounding in English literature should have picked up. 

Goodness knows, there are plenty of underemployed English majors out there.  Hire one as an editor.

glennra3
glennra3

Entertaining etymological foray.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

Well, Weiner does have a talent for one thing: dragging people into the mud with him. And I don't mean only his campaign staff.

Amit-Atlanta-USA
Amit-Atlanta-USA

MARK MY WORDS!

After Anthony Weiner's EXIT from the Mayoral race, I will be least surprised if his MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD IMPLANT wife Huma Abedin  will still stay on with him......

And, she will have any number of reasons to say "adieu".....or Good Bye (in French) to her perpetually cheating husband!

A little background......Huma who is the daughter Saleha Abedin a Pakistani woman based in Saudi Arabia and a founding member of THE MUSLIM SISTERHOOD was a Muslim Brotherhood implant in Hillary Clinton's state dept., which the Brotherhood themselves have claimed so many times.......without explicitly naming her or other implants such as RASHAD HASSAN, a MB defender and US Ambassador to the OIC, or IMAM RAUF (the Imam of the Ground Zero Cardoba VICTORY MOSQUE, and US Goodwill Ambassador to the ME, or that of CNN/Time's Mr. FAREED ZAKARIA an avid COVERT Islamist who's an external advisor to Pres. Obama. 

And, the reasons Huma married Anthony Weiner in the first place was because he was Jewish, influential, smart. What better way to flaunt your credentials than having a Jewish man, a potential NY mayor (which is way more powerful than being the Gov. of most US states) to carry on with her ISLAMIC AGENDA!

Now with Anthony Weiner showing his disdain for the Clinton's, it's certain Huma will surely distance herself from her husband to stay on in the Clinton's good books so that she gets a shot at being in the topmost echelons when Hillary steps into the Presidential race.

Same is the case with Time/CNN's covert Islamist  Mr. FAREED ZAKARIA who continues to stay married (even though in a deeply TROUBLED marriage) with Paula Throckmorton who's Jewish.

Will keep my fingers crossed......until then!

buffalo.barnes102
buffalo.barnes102

"Sl*tbag"? Sounds like something made up in middle school. Weiner is a "weinie-wagger", plain and simple. 

StephenAbbott
StephenAbbott

"shuffled ONTO this mortal coil"? Methinks the author doth not Google enough before she writeth.

notsacredh
notsacredh

Wouldn't "d0uchebag" be a more appropriate name for Weiner? He certainly fits the description.

paulejb
paulejb

I believe this is what is known as a meltdown. Women turn on women in defense of a male abuser. It is proof positive that liberal women put ideology before gender solidarity.

MrObvious
MrObvious

There comes a point where a 'good fight' should lead to, 'lets get out of dodge'. I don't see what's the point - few will voter for Wiener and the longer this drags out the more people will get hurt by his disastrous campaign.

deconstructiva
deconstructiva

Thanks, Katy. I didn't know about "slattern." It's hard to imagine Weiner even more damaged, but Morgan is finding a way to do it. It's even harder to realize that as Katy has pointed out, there's a long list of dirty words to insult women, but where's the equivalent list of men's words? Other than "b&stard' extended beyond its literal meaning, and of course generic terms like (a-whole), etc. we're getting shortchanged ...though of course sexism plays a role too, yes? But I give props to the High Sheriffs for letting Katy write this. Props also to TPM for printing the eye-bleeding quotes verbatim. I can guarantee WaPo would never let Karen Tumulty do that. Hell, WE can't write all those words here either no thanks to LF's mystery list of banned words. We may have to resort to going back to Pirate Speak.

InkognitoJones
InkognitoJones

Yet, according to the msm, women LOVE Weiner.  Must have been the OTHER type of weiner they were talking about.  You libs crack us 'thinking folk' up!

BenevolentLawyer
BenevolentLawyer

@Amit-Atlanta-USA Stay off the Meth. You are totally off the edge, and smoking it laced with hashish. Let me guess, you have a tin foil hat and you are writing from your basement bunker waiting for dooms day.

Please go away.    

Amit-Atlanta-USA
Amit-Atlanta-USA

Friends: When I wrote the above response, ofcourse I did expect reactions such as these. So, yes, I am not surprised.

You guys have an issue with me for stating Huma's MB connection. Please do a GOOGLE check. Read about her background and EDUCATE yourself.

Likewise, I can write a THESIS on such people incl. Mr.Fareed Zakaria (my former countryman from India) who have an unmistakable Islamic, anti-American, anti-all things UNISLAMIC agenda, and use every means available to cover that up.......that includes having a Jewish spouse that they can flaunt etc.

So, if you read a story with scant attention to every word that's said (& even more importantly words that are NOT said) you will know their agenda.

I will cite one such ex. from Mr. Fareed Zakaria (there are 100's, 1000's more) in one of his stories castigating Americans for being unfairly suspicious of Muslims, he cited the example of the parents of the 5 Pakistani kids from VA who had gone to Pakistan's NE for terrorist training, as also the father of the Nigerian underwear bombers, all of whom informed the FBI about their kids terrorist activities.

While that's a fact, what he DELIBERATELY DID NOT SAY was that these kids had already made Martyrdom videos and the ONLY way out for the parents to see their kids alive was to get them captured before they die in missions.

Also, Mr. Zakaria has called AMERICA AS THE REAL DANGER TO THE WORLD AND NOT AL-QAEDA & OTHER ISLAMIC RADICALS (Story: Reflections on 9/11 and aftermath CNN GPS Sept 9th, 2011). He also has tried to JUSTIFY the acts of 9/11, 7/7, 26/11 in many of his stories citing US, Indian, Russian anti-Muslim actions  (just check out the title - "Mayhem in Mumbai - MAKING SENSE of India's Terrorist Attacks" - Nov 25, 2008  , "How Russia created ITS OWN ISLAMIC TERRORISM PROBLEM" Time - Jan 27th 2011 etc.).

Just do a google check on my name "Amit-Atlanta-USA' and you will see my point by point rebuttals on several of his stories.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@Amit-Atlanta-USA

his MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD IMPLANT wife Huma Abedin  will still stay on with him......

Jesus Christ, disconnect and get help. 

SuperMatt
SuperMatt

@Amit-Atlanta-USA Are you serious?  But let me guess, you voted for a congressional representative that signed the "no tax" pledge.  This was a pledge to the leader of the Islamic Institute - Grover Norquist.  So, you're ok with your representative swearing an oath to the leader of the Islamic Institute, but not with a woman that has nothing to do with the muslim brotherhood, except that looneys such as yourself say it?  It's a conspiracy theory that has been debunked.

anon76
anon76

@StephenAbbott 

She was modifying Shakespeare's phrase to discuss something that happened 100 years before the Bard was born (rather than after Hamlet was dead).  What's wrong with that?

cjh2nd
cjh2nd

@sacredh 

 what does his personality have to do with what name his comm. director calls a former intern?

CocoPazzo
CocoPazzo

@paulejb 

   Your argument would more properly be "SOME women turn on women in defense of a male abuser."  Not necessarily ALL.  And later, again, "SOME liberal women..."

   Or, "at least one woman..."

demz.taters
demz.taters

@paulejb Unlike when Michelle Bachmann voted against federal workers receiving the same kind of maternity leave she herself enjoyed when she worked at the IRS.

postingonline42
postingonline42

@MrObvious I don't think controversy derailed his "comeback". I think he came back because not enough people were looking at his most recent self-taken photos. 

demz.taters
demz.taters

@InkognitoJones When "libs" vote Weiner into office the way cons sent Mark Sanford to Washington, then you might have a semblance of a point.

MrObvious
MrObvious

@InkognitoJones 

Us 'libs' haven't had much good to say about Wiener either. Maybe you shouldn't confuse one person with everyone else, especially since there's no consensus in agreement that you can point to. There is a really good reason why Wieners poll numbers are so abysmal.

shepherdwong
shepherdwong

@Ivy_B  Thanks, Ivy_B.  Nice to know I was missed (don't tell paulejb).

Amit-Atlanta-USA
Amit-Atlanta-USA

ERROR in my resp. above!

What I said

"So, if you read a story with scant attention to every word that's said"

What I meant

"So, if you read paying close attention to every word that's said"

FrankBlank
FrankBlank

@Amit-Atlanta-USA  

Amit, they have infiltrated Atlanta and are currently tunneling under your back yard, where they intend to create a bunker 9 feet underground.  I recommend you get the most powerful metal detector available, so you will know when they are their and when they have cached their RPGs.  

Just a word to the wise.   

anon76
anon76

@PaulDirks

"And paulie wonders why everyone thinks he a slimeball."

Actually, after reading this article I think he's a scumbag.


MrObvious
MrObvious

@paulejb @MrObvious @InkognitoJones 


Shh, we're trying to have an adult conversation and I'm sure you can find another subject to troll with your emotional childish BS. No one gives a shiat what you think.