Lewinsky (neologism)

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Following disclosure of the details of the sexual relationship between former US President Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky, the word lewinsky became synonymous with oral sex.[1] [2][3][4]

As the San Jose Mercury suggested in 1999, the neologism lewinsky has passed "into the vernacular as a synonym for oral sex".[2] A March 2000 op-ed in the Free-Lance Star suggested that Clinton "used the intern pool as a harem from which he plucked a girl willing to perform what can now be called a 'Lewinsky'".[5] In 2009 on popular wrestling site Wrestlezone, announcer Jim Ross opined that "most know what a 'Lewinsky' refers to".[6] Following a television character's use of the word, a New York Time article entitled "The Nation: The New Scandalisms; It Depends on What Your Definition of Linguistic Trend Is" stated that "most of the audience instantly understood what he was talking about".[7]


Between November 1995 and March 1997, then-President Bill Clinton and White House intern Monica Lewinsky had an intimate relationship that included Lewinsky performing fellatio on Clinton numerous times.[8] The relationship was revealed in early 1998 and several months of intense media coverage ensued. Many of the reports included details of Lewinsky performing oral sex on Clinton in the Oval Office and introduced new levels of frankness into media reports.[9][10]


Soon after the Clinton/lewinsky relationship was revealed, journalists were using the term "lewinsky" as a synomyn for the act of fellatio with no further explanation. The first use of lewinsky in a widely-read newspaper may be a September 1999 story which appeared in USA Today. In an article entitled "Land of Oz with lots of bad guys", Kathleen Parker wrote "Were Jones' claim true -- that the then-Arkansas governor invited her to perform a Lewinsky -- she should have smirked, thrown back her head and laughed shrilly".[11] In a November 1998 movie review in the Globe & Mail, Rick Groen describes one character in Woody Allen's Celebrity as "performing a full Lewinsky" on the film's protagonist.[12] The term has become a handy euphemism for journalists who would otherwise need to offer a fuller description or use more explicit language. The New York Times avoided using the neologism directly, but opted for the similar euphemism "a Monica Lewinsky-style sex act".[13] The OC Weekly titled a December 1999 report on a party which featured "a public hummer" as "The Full Lewinsky".[14]

Although use of lewinsky as a synonym for oral sex may have declined in recent years, it continues to be popular with right-leaning journalists and authors. In 2006, describing the affair between John Prescott and his diary secretary, Dominic Lawson of The Independent says "Ms Temple gave the Deputy Prime Minister the full Lewinsky in his office, under the gaze of a portrait of Oliver Cromwell".[15] In 2008, following a reference by comedian Dennis Miller to "people doing the full Lewinsky right under the desk", conservative television personality Bill O'Reilly declared that he did not understand the comment.[16] Lloyd Marcus shows the longevity of the word lewinsky by using it in an essay published in the July 2011 issue of American Thinker.[17] David Kahane uses the term to connect the Clinton/Lewinsky relationship with the 2011 Anthony Weiner sexting scandal.[18] In June 2011, conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh used the term to mean oral sex.[19] In February 2011 Limbuagh used lewinsky several times in a piece entitled "Study: Lewinskys Cause More Throat Cancer Than Tobacco".[20]

The neologism was listed in "Sex Slang" as a noun meaning "an act of oral sex" dating from 1999.[21] "The Bald Headed Hermit & The Artichoke: An Erotic Thesaurus" lists lewinsky as a synonym for oral sex.[22][23] The concise new Partridge dictionary of slang and unconventional English has a similar entry for "an act of oral sex".[24] Definitions are also included in "A Concise Collection of College Students' Slang" and "Eats, shites & leaves: crap English and how to use it".[25][26] The word lewinsky continues to be used both as a noun and a verb in popular media and as the punchline for jokes. The pilot of short-lived comedy Patterson contains a joke in which star Jason Alexander "talks about how he is so short he looks like he is giving a Lewinsky" to much taller co-star John Tesh.[27]

Usage on Law & Order: Special Victim's Unit

In an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit which aired in October 1999, one of the characters makes reference to "getting a Lewinsky".[28] This prompted Bernard Lewinsky, father of Monica, to demand an apology from broadcaster NBC, producer/creator Dick Wolf, and distributor Universal.[29] [30][31]. British tabloid The Sun quoted a character as saying "Jasmine said he made her Lewinsky him for his collection".[4]

The Guardian's Akin Ojumu delared that through its usage in the show lewinsky "has been enshrined as a euphemism for sex".[31] The Reading Eagle noted that the term had been previously used on other NBC shows, citing a recent pilot as an example.[29] Entertainment Weekly referred to the use of lewinsky as "a cliched joke".[32] An editorial in the Savannah Morning News cites Cold Feet and Sex and the City as having used lewinsky prior to the Law & Order usage which upset Dr Lewinsky.[33]

In "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Unofficial Companion", it is also noted that there are "a few sly references to Monica Lewinsky" in a 2005 episode.[34]

See also


  1. Thibault, David (2004-06-25). "Lewinsky: Clinton is a 'Liar and a Creep'". CNSNews.com. Archived from the original on 2005-12-30. http://web.archive.org/web/20051203210728/http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewNation.asp?Page=\Nation\archive\200406\NAT20040625a.html. "After years of therapy, Lewinsky told the Daily Mail that she is still tormented by the affair and its resultant publicity, especially because her name continues to be synonymous with oral sex." 
  2. 2.0 2.1 "If The Spiked Heels Fit, Well...". San Jose Mercury: p. 6b. 1999-10-19. "And Monica Lewinsky? Her name is passing into the vernacular as a synonym for oral sex." 
  3. Shittu, Hakeem; Callie Query. "Glossary". Absurdities, Scandals & Stupidities in Politics. p. 128. "Slang term for oral sex coined in the wake of the political scandal over President Bill Clinton's liaisons with White House intern Monica Lewinsky." 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Ross, Ally (14 October 1999). "Monica Lewinsky; UK Confidential.". The Sun: p. 22. "BOLDLY following the trail blazed by Errol Flynn, MONICA LEWINSKY's name has now become the unofficial American slang term for what we modestly refer to in the tabloid press as a "sex act"." 
  5. Lakely, James G. (19 March 2000). "For once, Clinton foe is using Clintonian tactics". The Free Lance-Star: p. E3. 
  6. Boone, Matt (22 May 2009). "Jim Ross On WWE/Denver Incident, RAW Announcing, Tag-Teams". Wrestlezone. http://www.wrestlezone.com/news/article/jim-ross-on-wwedenver-incident-raw-announcing-tag-teams-77475. Retrieved 2 July 2011. "Most know what a "Lewinsky" refers to so I wonder if arena scheduling issues might be referred to as "Kroenke's" in the future?" 
  7. Van Matta, Don Jr (17 October 1999). "The Nation: The New Scandalisms; It Depends on What Your Definition of Linguistic Trend Is". The New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/1999/10/17/weekinreview/nation-new-scandalisms-it-depends-what-your-definition-linguistic-trend.html. Retrieved 4 July 2011. "ON a recent episode of the new NBC drama Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a male character referred to getting a Lewinsky. Most of the audience instantly understood what he was talking about." 
  8. "Lewinsky and the first lady". USA Today. AP. 19 March 2008. http://www.usatoday.com/news/politics/2008-03-19-852575883_x.htm. 
  10. Kastor, Elizabeth (25 January 1998). "Political Troublespeak: With Each Scandal, a New Lingo". The Washington Post. 
  11. Parker, Kathleen (15 September 1999). "Were Jones' claim true -- that the then-Arkansas governor invited her to perform a Lewinsky -- she should have smirked, thrown back her head and laughed shrilly". USA Today. "Start with Paula Jones, who, you have to admit, pre-surgery, bore a striking resemblance to a certain Oz character. Hint: I'll get you my little pretty. Were Jones' claim true -- that the then-Arkansas governor invited her to perform a Lewinsky -- she should have smirked, thrown back her head and laughed shrilly." 
  12. Groen, Rick (20 November 1998). "Woody's comic muse craps out". Globe & Mail: p. E1. "Early on, one grateful subject (Melanie Griffith) invites him back to her childhood home, wiggles suggestively on her old frame bed, then thanks Lee by performing a full Lewinsky on his startled self." 
  13. Lyall, Sarah (24 December 2000). "Return to Sender, Please". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2000/12/24/weekinreview/return-to-sender-please.html. 
  14. Schoenkopf, Rebecca (2 December 1999). "The Full Lewinsky". The OC Weekly. http://www.ocweekly.com/1999-12-09/columns/the-full-lewinsky/. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  15. Lawson, Dominic (2 February 2006). "We expect no better of John Prescott". The Independent. 
  16. Miller, Dennis (30 July 2008). "Dennis Miller Opines on Scott McClellan, McCain Ad, L.A. Earthquake". The O'Reilly Factor. Fox News Network. 
  17. Marcus, Lloyd (1 July 2011). "A Case For Cain". American Thinker. http://www.americanthinker.com/2011/06/a_case_for_cain.html. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  18. Kahane, David (June 6 2011). "Wasting Away in Tonyweinerville". National Review Online. National Review. http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/268935/wasting-away-tonyweinerville-david-kahane. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  19. Limbaugh, Rush (2 June 2011). "On Leaders and Their Flaws". The Rush Limbaugh Show. http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/daily/site_060211/content/01125113.guest.html. Retrieved 1 July 2011. "I mean there are women who write of Bill Clinton, "I would give Clinton a Lewinsky myself just to thank him for keeping abortion legal."" 
  20. Limbaugh, Rush (21 February 2011). "Study: Lewinskys Cause More Throat Cancer Than Tobacco". The Rush Limbaugh Show. http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/content/home/daily/site_022111/content/01125107.guest.html. Retrieved 1 July 2011. "I'll leave that up to you, moms and dads, to explain to your youngsters, "What is a Lewinsky?" I'm just trying to keep the program aboveboard." 
  21. Dalzell, Tom; Terry Victor (2007). Sex Slang. Routledge. p. 105. 
  22. Peterkin, Allan (1999). The bald-headed hermit and the artichoke:an erotic thesaurus. Arsenal Pulp Press. pp. 154. 
  23. Garnett, Gale (17 July 1999). "More vulgar than erotic". Globe & Mail. 
  24. Partridge, Eric; Tom Dalzell, Terry Victor (2007). The concise new Partridge dictionary of slang and unconventional English. Routledge. p. 399. 
  25. Lu, Xin-An; David W. Graf Jr (2004). A Concise Collection of College Students' Slang. iUniverse. p. 57. "Lewinsky (n): fellatio, blow job" 
  26. Parody, A (2006). Eats, shites & leaves: crap English and how to use it. Dorset Press. p. 65. 
  27. Bleyker, Katie Den (2 October 2001). "Comedy 'Patterson' cannot compare to clever 'Seinfeld'". The Michigan Daily. 
  28. Leibowitz, David (20 October 1999). "Lewinsky name becomes lewd noun". Arizona Republic. "It seems that last week, in one of those beautiful art-mirrors-life moments, a Law & Order character searching for exactly the right euphemism to describe oral sex uttered a novel, yet deadly accurate coinage: Getting a Lewinsky." 
  29. 29.0 29.1 "Lewinsky's dad mad at use of name". Reading Eagle: p. W17. 15 October 1999. http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=PeciAAAAIBAJ&sjid=faYFAAAAIBAJ&pg=6188,9322633. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  30. "Lewinsky father enraged by new TV slang". BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/474909.stm. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  31. 31.0 31.1 Ojumu, Akin (17 October 1999). "Taking the Lewinsky name in vain". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/1999/oct/17/comment.akinojumu. Retrieved 1 July 2011. 
  32. Wolk, Josh. "Blown Opportunity". Entertainment Weekly. http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,84720,00.html. Retrieved 1 July 2011. "Now no one will know if getting a Lewinsky means receiving oral sex, or receiving a lot of publicity for a clichéd joke that otherwise would have been ignored." 
  33. "Editorial: Lewinsky, the verb". Savannah Morning News. http://savannahnow.com/stories/101699/OPEDtwo.shtml. Retrieved 1 July 2011. "THE LONG-term historical repercussions of the Clinton impeachment are impossible to predict. But the Lewinsky episode has produced at least one short-term contribution to the popular culture lexicon: an eponymous euphemism for oral sex." 
  34. Wolf, Dick; Susan Green, Randee Dawn (2009). Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Unofficial Companion. BenBella Books. p. 291.