bent

Discuss word origins and meanings.
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bent

Post by Ken Greenwald » Wed Oct 07, 2015 6:42 pm

aaa
I was reading A Man Called Dove (2014) by Robert Galbraith (a.k.a.: J. K. Rowling) when I came across a word I had never heard used in this way. The book is a translation from Swedish by a Swedish translator, Henning Koch.
Bent are you?
“Ove! says Parvaneh and slaps him [[Ove]] on the arm.
What?! [[says Ove]]
“You don’t say . . . you don’t call it that,” Parvaneh says, clearly unwilling to pronounce the word again.
“Queer?” Ove offers. . . .
“Don’t talk like that!” she orders him. . . .
“Can’t you say ‘bent? [[asks Ove]] What are you supposed to say nowadays?”
“You say homosexual. Or an LGBT person,” Parvaneh interrupts before she can stop herself.
After consulting my slang dictionaries I found that bent is indeed a British derogatory noun and an adjective for homosexual. Another one to add to the list of nasties.
Below, I’ll give the full listing of the many interesting dictionary meanings of the word bent:

CASSELL’S DICTIONARY OF SLANG

BENT noun (also BENT-SHOT) [1950s and still in use]: A homosexual. [See bent adjective (5)

BENT adjective
1) [mid-19th century and still in use] Intoxicated by liquor or [1930s and still in use] drugs.
2) [1910s]; Spoiled, ruined.
3)[1910s and still in use]: Criminal, corrupt.
4)[1930s and still in use]: Illegal, stolen.
5) [1950s and still in use]: Sexually eccentric, especially homosexual.
6) [1960s]: Impoverished, penniless.
7) [1960s and still in use] (originally U.S.): Eccentric, acting oddly, behaving in a strange manner.
8) [1960s and still in use (U.S.): Angry, excited, usually in the phrase , bent out of shape, adjective.
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Or more succinctly, and confirming that the sexual expression is mainly U.K., which Cassell’s failed to mention.

THE NEW PARTRIDGE DICTIONARY OF SLANG AND UNCONVENTIONAL ENGLISH

BENT noun: A homosexual U.K. 1957
BENT adjective <Does your family know you’re bent?> —Babycakes by page 214, 1984
BENT adjective(U.K. 1957: Sexually deviant. <Being tall I could pass for a foreign soldier, albeit a slightly bent one.>
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No etymology is offered for the sexual bent but its pretty easy to see that it came comes from a deviation from the correct state, from the normal state; damaged, crooked, etc. There is also a bodily position that could be involved if one thought along those lines.

And who can forget that powerful,infamous, slur from the 1970s, Get bent! – Drop dead!; Go to hell!
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Ken Greenwald – October 7, 2015 (Straight as an arrow, but these days not necessarily anything to be proud of.)
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Re: bent

Post by trolley » Wed Oct 07, 2015 9:32 pm

We use "bent" to mean angry or excited.
"No need to get all bent about it." I would imagine that it is short for "bent out of shape". I'll have to be careful the next time I am talking to a Brit...like that time in the pub when I mentioned that I was going outside for a puff...
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Re: bent

Post by Bobinwales » Thu Oct 08, 2015 12:17 pm

I wouldn't say that bent is a nasty Ken. Actually I don't think that it is used much these days, nor is queer or John's pouf. All of them seem to have been overtaken by the ubiquitous, "gay". Although having said that my daughter, who is gay, talks about the Lesbian Community, but will often light-heartedly refer to herself as a pouf.
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Re: bent

Post by Bobinwales » Thu Oct 08, 2015 12:25 pm

Do you mind if I tell a story here?

Once upon a time I occasionally used to find myself on the end of a council telephone taking requests for furniture collections for disposal and destruction. I was on it one day when a very effeminate gentleman asked us to collect his mother's three piece suite. As the term. "three-piece-suite" seems to mean all sorts to various people (two armchairs and a sofa, two sofas and an armchair, two armchairs, three armchairs and a sofa etc.) we had to ask what was meant. I asked, "Is that two armchairs and a sofa?" The minced reply came, "Yeth. And an old pouf", I assumed he mean pouffe, and to my eternal credit, did not collapse with laughter until after he had hung up.
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Re: bent

Post by Phil White » Thu Oct 08, 2015 1:06 pm

It was certainly current in my youth, although only as an adjective. The corresponding noun was "bender".
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Re: bent

Post by tony h » Thu Oct 08, 2015 8:22 pm

Agree with Phil on bent and certainly not confined to homosexuals.

Bender was just for homosexual.

Just while writing I note the phrase: "what's his/her/your bent?" is simply a question asking for a preference - but probably slightly odd.

eg in the pub "What's your bent?" Answer may include : barley wine, Guinness with Worcestershire sauce.

Or "he has a bent for sardines on toast".

From this I always assumed "bent" meant "turned away from normal".
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With the right context almost anything can sound appropriate.

Re: bent

Post by Phil White » Thu Oct 08, 2015 9:36 pm

Sardines on toast are not odd. Not in the least.

Putting milk on your scouse would be odd, but me mam says the kids used to do it when she was evacuated to relatives just outside Liverpool in the war.
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End of topic.
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