Previous: Misconceptions about Exercise - mental_floss on YouTube (Ep. 9)
Next: Misconceptions about Driving - mental_floss on YouTube (Ep. 10)



View count:180,831
Last sync:2024-07-17 00:45
A weekly show where we endeavor to answer one of your big questions. This week, "kat3krazy" asks, "Where did saying a guy was 'hot' originate?”

Josh's book:

Mental Floss Video on Twitter:

Select Images and Footage provided by Shutterstock:

Store: (enter promo code: "YoutubeFlossers" for 15% off!)
Hi, I'm Josh Sundquist and this is Mental floss on YouTube. Today I'm going to answer cat three crazies big question: Where did saying a guy was "hot" originate?

Well cat, I'm going to assume that you mean this guy is good looking not feverish, and i think you'll be surprised to learn that this term is pretty old, like 700 years old. Lets get started.


Since you asked where the term originated I should probably note that the English word "hot" evolved from a similar old English term borrowed from the Germanic languages, but back then the word was simply referring to heat.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it was during the 1300's that the English word hot started being associated with lustfulness or desire. So the word didn't mean attractive yet, but the word had shifted from referring to temperature to referring to lust. This was a crucial change in the words meaning. It brought the word "hot" one small step away from the definition we know and love today.

An example of this can be seen in the prologue of Chaucer's the Canterbury tales. We know Chaucer wrote the phrase: "Hot he was, and lecherous as a sparrow" during the late 1300's.

Another example appears in Merlin or the early history of King Arthur which was written between 1450 and 1460.

The text describes a character as "...the moste hottest woman of all Breteign, and moste luxuriouse."

That sounds more similar to how we use the word "hottest" today, but it probably still meant lustful in this context.

Usage of the word persisted through history like, I'm sure everyone remembers the beautiful now open quote from Shakespeare's Othello : "Were they as prime as goats, as hot as monkeys"

Moving on, the Oxford English Dictionary sights 1926, as the year "hot" officially because a slang word meaning attractive.

Now I use the term officially because the slang was probably already being used but this is the first time the word "hot" appeared meaning attractive in print.

What was the context? The New Republic magazine ran an article that claimed : "Aphrodite -- more widely known as Venus -- was the hot momma of goddesses."

So there's your background on the evolution of the term. Cat does specifically mention guys in her question though. From where guys are first referred to as hot the Oxford English Dictionary sites James Robert Bakers 1985 book Adrenaline.

Under the pseudonym James Dillinger Baker wrote: "There's always just jillions of hot young guys around."

Thanks for watching Mental Floss on YouTube which is made with the help of all these nice people.

Again, I'm Josh Sundquist for more information about hotness and romance, check out my new memoir: We Should Hang out Sometime.

Click the link below to go to We Should hang out sometime dot com for more information.

If you have a big question of your own that you'd like answered, leave it below in the comments.

See you next week.