03 January 2016

Word for the day: pandering

The word "pander", meaning to "pimp" is derived from Pandarus, a licentious figure who facilitates the affair between the protagonists in Troilus and Criseyde, a poem by Geoffrey Chaucer.  Pandarus appears with a similar role in Shakespeare's interpretation of the story, Troilus and Cressida.

The plot function of the aging lech Pandarus in Chaucer's and Shakespeare's famous works has given rise to the English terms a pander (in later usage a panderer), from Chaucer, meaning a person who furthers other people's illicit sexual amours; and to pander, from Shakespeare, as a verb denoting the same activity. A panderer is, specifically, a bawd — a male who arranges access to female sexual favors, the manager of prostitutes. Thus, in law, the charge of pandering is an accusation that an individual has sold the sexual services of another. The verb "to pander" is also used in a more general sense to suggest active or implicit encouragement of someone's weaknesses.
The image at the top is Vermeer's portrayal of The Procuress.
The woman in black, the leering coupler, "in a nun's costume", could be the eponymous procuress, while the man to her right, "wearing a black beret and a doublet with slashed sleeves", has been identified as a self portrait of the artist.
Pandering/pimping is in the news this week because a Stanford graduate publicly proclaimed her allegiance to the Iowa team in the Rose Bowl matchup, a few weeks before the Iowa Republican primary.

She later tried to retract the statement by claiming it was expressed "tongue-in-cheek."  Her several hundred supporters in Iowa will probably accept that.


  1. i never knew its roots, but when heard in contemporary use, it always does sound just a wee bit sleazy.

    i guess it is one of those words whose sound describes what it means.


  2. Fiorina has NO shame at all. WHAT a panderer. (Unless you're talking about women's rights, of course).

    1. They are ALL panderers because they're politicians.


  3. Fiorina has NO shame at all. WHAT a panderer. (Unless you're talking about women's rights, of course).

  4. Personally, I don't like the political coverage here. But its your blog. Fiorina goes to an Iowa tailgater and puts a supportive IM.

    I'm surprised you didn't cover this as well

    Hillary Clinton says that aliens may have already visited humanity.
    "I think we may have been [visited already]. We don't know for sure," the Democratic presidential front-runner told The Conway Daily Sun during a campaign stop in New Hampshire last week. [ ... ]

    Hillary Clinton told a Sun reporter that she would "get to the bottom" of UFOs. The reporter said the two spoke before, in 2007, when Hillary Clinton said the top open-records request her husband receive at his library involved UFOs.

    She also noted that campaign chairman John Podesta, who served as White House chief of staff under Bill Clinton and in Barack Obama's White House, is a major fan of UFO theories.

    "He has made me personally pledge we are going to get the information out," Clinton said. "One way or another. Maybe we could have, like, a task force to go to Area 51."

    1. I hadn't seen the UFO comment (I don't follow politics very closely), but I don't think I would have used it as an example of pandering (unless you think New Hampshire voters are UFO believers).

  5. Seriously? Of course I don't think that.. not all of them, but certainly some small percentage, like everywhere else.

    I find it amusing that Fiorina goes to a U of Iowa Tailgate event in Iowa and expresses support for the team, having just been through a major team supporting event. Stupid answer on her part, and gets a lot of hammering from it -- what was she supposed to say? "I just was at a U of Iowa fans event, and they're all wrong??" Hillary talks to a reporter from a New Hampshire newspaper, who has asked her about UFOs before, and also makes a really stupid pandering statement to the reporter. Hillary IMHO didn't handle it any better..

    1. I do not like (do not trust) Hillary Clinton, as you might gather from what I've written in this blog. But this post was not about her or political stupidity in general. I wrote the post to explicate about the etymology of the word "pander," which was in the news this week because of Carly Fiorina's tweet. That's it. She's not a serious presidential candidate and I wouldn't waste my time blogging about her were it not for the relevance to the language bit.

  6. And you can hardly call Clinton's comments about UFO's pandering - well maybe you can - IF you think Americans are as stupid as their voting records. I don't trust her, or like her, either. So try to refrain from spewing "stupid Dem librul supporter" bullshit.


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