The word cum and all of its meanings

I was reading a post from the blog Londonist and I had to stop for a double take when I read:

Only Our Own takes place in the dining-cum-sitting room of one upper class family…”

And I stopped and reread… because in the US it’s used to describe an orgasm or  semen.

So I decided to do a little unscholarly research and googled the word.

From Wikipedia

Cum may refer to:

  • A Latin word, which can be either the preposition with or a conjunction meaning whenbecause, or although.
    • An English linking word, derived from the Latin word for ‘with.’ It is used in many place names in England as well as in everyday English – e.g. Prestwich-cum-Oldham
    • cum tempore (with time); notation used at universities in German, Austrian, Swiss and Scandinavian countries for starting 15 minutes late.
    • Referring to diplomas and degrees: cum laude (with praise), magna cum laude (with great praise); maxima cum laude (with maximal praise); summa cum laude(with highest praise); egregia cum laude (with outstanding praise)
  • A sexual term, meaning to orgasm, also spelt “come”

OK looks like Wikipedia got it right. So I’m beginning to see how a word could have morphed from its innocent beginnings into the raunch is it used for today. I mean do you say John-cum-Jane, I wonder? Or maybe it has nothing to do with the Latin root and it simply develop from “to come” and the porn industry wanted to make good and sure that the people of the world knew what kind of coming (or cuming) was happening there folks…

So I am aware now of how the British cherish and use the Latin language to this day. Are all children taught Latin in school in the UK? It is so interesting how English has developed over the past 400+ years in my country alone. I am so amazed by languages and cultures. Humans are amazing, always wanting to take something and make it our own, to customize something to be uniquely ours. I’m not trying to make the word cum into  something precious, it is just a reminder of how things develop.

It’s a nice reminder that you don’t always know where something (or someone) is from, so it never hurts to do a little research to open the mind a bit. I for one will do my best, when in the UK, to not even notice when someone tells me something took place in their dining-cum-sitting room. No promises though… I am an American and chances are it’ll make me smile. I’ll resist giggling.



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