Weird Word of the Day: Frottage

This little gem has been around since 1935, but, had it not been for Dan Savage and his “Savage Love” column, I don’t think I ever would have known it existed.

Here’s what Merriam-Webster has to say about this nifty noun:

The technique of creating a design by rubbing (as with a pencil) over an object placed underneath the paper.

Sounds innocent enough, doesn’t it? Well, I’ll be darned–kind of forgot about this other usage :

The act of obtaining sexual stimulation by rubbing against a person or object.

Anywho, let’s see this little guy in action:

  • From Lehigh Valley Live: Falk said this is only his second case involving frottage, or frotteurism, which is sexual gratification by rubbing against someone or something.
  • From the Houston Press: He’s added texture through frottage, often by way of the ceiling boards above as he rubbed in communion with the unwelcome tenants in the ceiling.
  • From the Spectator: Some look like rubbings, prefiguring the frottage drawings of Max Ernst — probably no coincidence, as the prints so little valued by Segers’s contemporaries that they were used for wrapping butter and soap would become all the rage among the surrealists.

Although “frottage” sounds Tolkienesque–a cute little hobbit house, perhaps?–you could consider incorporating it into your vocabulary. Just be ready to define it when you get a knitted brow. Or two. Or three.



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