Women are so hysterical

In Language on November 12, 2010 at 3:50 am

I guess in my latest blog I said I would talk about the word ‘hysteria’.  Now hysteria means – to get the direct definition I’ll use dictionary.com – “an uncontrollable outburst of emotion or fear, often characterized by irrationality, laughter, weeping, etc.”  I first learned of the origin of this word during high school history class.  I can’t remember what we were discussing, but this word came up, and being a good teacher that he was, he (I can’t remember his name but I can picture him and his mannerisms haha) gave us a little tidbit of historic information.  Hysteria came from Greek for womb or uterus, hystera, which is where we get hysterectomy (the removal of the uterus).  Women were called hysterical during their periods, due to hormonal fluctuations that often affect one emotionally, physically, etc., or when they had nervous diseases or symptoms because it was thought that it was caused by their reproductive organs.  Silly men or I guess people in general, but because men were in positions of power they were the one’s to define what they did not understand, and I feel as though the female reproductive system is still a mystery to many men – especially when it comes to that monthly gift Mother Nature loves to send us.  It disgusts some men, scares others, confuses some, or a variation of these reactions. 

So, if you weren’t aware of the origin of hysteria, there it is. Go and look it up more in depth if you like, and do so for other words as well. Like ‘gypped’, meaning to be cheated out of something or ripped off.  It comes from gypsies, who were considered low lives, thieves, and cast offs. So yeah, just think about the way you use language and the words you use, because they might offend someone. Whether you’re aware of it or not words have powerful meanings and affects on people; they conjure images and histories and can be extremely symbolic, and society is run by the symbols and symbolism of things we are around everyday.  You know that popular phrase: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt.” Well, that’s a lie.


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