Thursday, September 08, 2005

New Orleans mayor, Ray Nagin, has taken to using the phrase lickety quick on a number of occasions. On September 1st, he said that we authorized $8 billion to go to Iraq lickety-quick; he also said we gave the president unprecedented powers lickety-quick; and in an interview with radio commentator, Glenn Beck, he used the phrase in three consecutive sentences.

What caught my attention was that in the radio interview, he actually started each time by saying "lickety sp..." and then correcting himself to say "lickety quick." As Freud says, "betrayal oozes from every pore," and in this case, Nagin was clearly trying to avoid saying "lickety split." But why?

The phrase lickety split appears to have been around for over 150 years, quoted in Bartlett's 1859 Dictionary of Americanisms as meaning "very fast, headlong." Other variations such as lickety click and lickety cut have also been heard.

But lickety quick? This seems to be a new coinage, a hapax legomenon squeezed reluctantly from the mouth of mayor Nagin.

Now, the reason people self-censor is because they are aware that the word, or words, being used are likely to cause offence to someone. Ergo, Nagin is privy to a meaning of lickety split that can be offensive. What could this be?

At times like this, it's always a good idea to check out the Urban Dictionary, a treasure trove of information about current slang and word usage. If you've ever wondered why Kellis' milkshake "brings all the boys to the yard" or why you might want to avoid offering to help "toss the salad" at your friends barbecue, Urbandictionary is the place to get an education.

Within a few clicks, I found the answer to Nagin's Freudian issues: lickety-split: to administer cunnilingus. Usage: I gave her lickety-split.

The answer appears. Mayor Nagin has not only had to deal with getting help for the greatest natural disaster ever to hit the USA, but avoid making references to oral sex that might shock some little old lady in Maine. Especially those who read the Urban Dictionary.

Mystery solved. Lickety split.

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