Le cul entre les deux chaises

An American Spaniard in France or: How I Learned to Make an Ass of Myself in Three Cultures

Word Mystery: slug / babosa / limace


Every Wednesday, I explore the linguistic origins of one word in different languages.

Thinking of my Consistency Rule led me to critically consider the things I don’t eat. Most fall under the subheading Slimy with a cross-reference to both Icky and Gross. Things like oysters, mussels, squid, octopus, cockles, clams, snails. These are all things I’ve eaten at least once as a child and as an adult and, until recently, I would have told you that thing they have in common is that I Do Not Like Them One Bit.

But it turns out that they’re all mollusks, so I can now say I don’t eat mollusks instead of saying I only eat some shellfish (scallops, shrimp, crab, etc. are okay).

I can also say that the only creatures I was ever intentionally mean to were mollusks since I used to sprinkle salt on slugs on my grandparents’ farm and watch them squirm. In my defense, I did this because slugs are the most disgusting things in the world and if you’re a stupid tomboy who runs around in the wild and happens to come into contact with one, you will have their nasty slime all over you for hours and then someone will literally take a rock with soap on it to your skin to scrub it off and it will hurt like hell and you’ll wish all the damn slugs in the world were dead because you’re raw all over and pissed. When this happens to you regularly, you start to take matters into your own hands, preemptively destroying all potential slime-inflicters before they get you.

EN → slug —  a tough-skinned terrestrial mollusk that typically lacks a shell and secretes a film of mucus for protection. ORIGIN probably from Norwegian dialect slugg [large heavy body].

ES → babosaMolusco gasterópodo pulmonado, terrestre, sin concha, que cuando se arrastra deja como huella de su paso una abundante baba. [Shell-less terrestrial pulmonate gastropod mollusk which, when it drags itself, leaves a trail of abundant slime.] ORIGIN Noun/adjective form of baba [drool, slobber] from Latin baba.

FR → limaceMollusque terrestre sans coquille. [Terrestrial mollusk without a shell.] ORIGIN Common Latin limacea from Classic Latin limus, both meaning “snail; slug.”

I like that the French definition is totally dismissive, like they don’t even deserve to be in a dictionary. Je suis d’accord, but the win goes to Spanish in honor of all the babosas I killed. (Still not sorry about it.)

*In care you’re confused (which you probably should be)

There was NO WAY I was going to put a picture of a slug on my blog. I couldn’t even make it through the Wikipedia entry about them to see what the hell is up with their nasty, nasty slobber so I decided that I’d rather have a post with a REN & STIMPY reference since that makes me happy.


Author: le cul en rows

I'm an American Spaniard, living in France. I like to tell stories.

8 thoughts on “Word Mystery: slug / babosa / limace

  1. They’ve been hanging out in my mini garden lately and actually, I couldn’t find the word to explain to my husband what they were. Thanks!

    • Did you not know what they were called before? I definitely only knew about them from my grandparents’ house and my frequent run-ins with them. We didn’t have them where I grew up in the US…

      • It is one of those weird things that unless you had a reason to know what they’re called, you have no reason to know what they’re called. I think there’s an animated movie this summer with a slug in it, so that may mean today’s youngsters will grow up knowing it, but everyone’s better off without them.

        Sorry about your garden.

  2. Liked for the Ren & Stimpy reference alone (the series is available on Amazon Instant Prime here in the US, and I just watched the episode where Stimpy goes on the show).

    Slugs are awful (don’t really like snails, either) but I will very happily down oyster after oyster, or clams, or mussels for that matter. The latter two I only eat cooked, but if you gave me a few dozen raw oysters to down, I’d be totally OK with doing that.

    • I still have my trusty Region 1 R&S DVDs… which don’t do me a whole hell of a lot of good over here in Region 2 Land, but I lurve them just the same. What a weird wonderful show that was (for 2 seasons).

      • It went seriously downhill after John Kricfalusi (yes, I wiki’d his name) was fired. They only have certain episodes up (for example, the episode with Ren’s cousin and Don’t Whizz On The Electric Fence) isn’t available, much to my chagrin.

      • True Story: in a pottery class one year, I made a chess set with R&S pieces. Logs were the pawns, Mr. Horse was the knights, bigger logs were the rooks, R&S were the king and queen respectively, etc. It was one of the most fun things I ever did.

        I really, really, really loved that show.

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