Post by Peter T. Daniels Post by Horace LaBadie Post by Peter T. Daniels Post by Horace LaBadie Post by tonbei
I think it means the seventh year itch.
If so, why don't you say so.
1) the seven year itch
2) the seventh year itch
2) seems more valid than 1).
It's the popular name of a skin disease, scabies, caused by a burrowing
mite, one of the symptoms of which is persistent itching.
Never have I encountered such a suggestion!
Thoreau by way of Axelrod by way of William Safire.
" In 1992, William Safire recorded a conversation he had had with Mr
Axelrod about why he chose the title. The latter was sure that it had
never been used in a marital wanderlust connotation before he borrowed
How did he come across this Americanism? I was writing jokes for a
hillbilly comedian called Rod Brassfield, recalls Mr. Axelrod, who
starred with Minnie Pearl on the Grand Ole Opry radio show. ... One of
his favorite lines was: I know shes over 21 because shes had the
seven-year itch four times! That hideous line, says Mr. Axelrod, now 69,
was running through my head when I was desperately seeking a title for
the play I had just finished ... In the first draft, the guy had been
married 10 years (as had I) but the title, when it came, had a natural
ring to it and I changed the number of years the hero had been married
On Language, New York Times, 29 Mar. 1992."
You've left out any mention of Thoreau.
Read the whole article at the link.
"Q From Loren Crispell: In the final chapter of Walden, almost at the
final paragraph, Thoreau refers to mankind as human insects and uses the
phrase the seven year itch. My wife and I were trying to locate the
original use as the author was not in any way referring to relationships
or sexual boredom. Perhaps you can shed some light.
A Well spotted. This example of the phrase is one of the earliest known.
But the sense of Henry Thoreaus text isnt what you might call limpidly
clear to most people today:
There is not one of my readers who has yet lived a whole human life.
These may be but the spring months in the life of the race. If we have
had the seven-years itch, we have not seen the seventeen-year locust yet
Walden, or Life in the Woods, by Henry Thoreau, 1854.
The seven-year itch that he had in mind was an infection by a mite which
lays its eggs in burrows under the skin. Its medical name is scabies,
whose name comes appropriately from Latin scabere, to scratch. It was
once extremely common in all kinds of situations and historical American
sources are full of names for it, among them Indiana itch, Illinois
itch, Jackson itch, Cuban itch, prairie itch, camp itch, army itch, ship
itch, jail itch, mattress itch, swamp itch, winter itch, barley itch and
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Mr. Safire had a habit of shooting first and asking questions later. His
biweekly columns were filled with acknowledgments of mistakes that had
been pointed out by readers (including prominent linguist Jim McCawley,
who had a complete set of personally inscribed copies of all the books)
as soon as the previous column appeared (it was in the New York Times
Magazine). If this account be valid, and the playwright really thought
he had never heard the expression used the way he used it, then the
"scabies" sense was highly regional and wouldn't have been familiar to
the general playgoing and moviegoing audience either.
"Scabies, also known as the seven-year itch, is a contagious skin
infestation by the mite Sarcoptes scabiei."
Post by Peter T. Daniels
Post by Horace LaBadie Post by Peter T. Daniels Post by Horace LaBadie
The stage play (and movie screenplay) with that title is a play on words.
The only meaning is that married men tend to get a roving eye after
seven years of marriage.
If it had to do with a skin sensation, would it be an itch that lasts
seven years, or that recurs in a seven-year cycle?
NB subjunctive "had"