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Cataglottism

Pronounced /kætəˈɡlɒtɪz(ə)m/Help with pronunciation

Cataglottism refers to kissing using the tongue, French kissing. Albeit potentially useful, iy’s so rare that I cannot find a modern example outside lists of weird words. This is an older example, which seems to mean kissing in its general sense:

The kiss is not only an expression of feeling; it is a means of provoking it. Cataglottism is by no means confined to pigeons.

Studies in the Psychology of Sex, by Havelock Ellis, 1927.

Its Greek prefix — meaning “down”, but often with an implication of disparagement or abuse or of something inferior or unpleasant — turns up also in cataclysm, catastrophe, catafalque, and catarrh — a dispiriting set of bed-fellows for this mildly erotic term. Its second part is from Greek glottis, a variant of glossa, tongue.

As that word could also mean “throat” (and has been borrowed to provide the English medical term for the vocal cords and the space between them), you might translate the stem of cataglottism as deep throat. But let’s not go there ...

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Copyright © Michael Quinion, 1996–. All rights reserved.
Page created 1 Jun. 2002

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Last modified: 1 June 2002.