Your mother wears army boots!

Posted By on September 15, 2012

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A friend of mine commented on an interesting Facebook photo the other day and said it was most likely taken in Israel (or perhaps Switzerland?). Seeing women with assault rifles slung over their shoulders did raise my eyebrows, but it also triggered memories of an old expression loosely thrown around when I was a kid. You don’t hear it all that often today, but it was once seen as a pretty derogatory statement … I just didn’t know how derogatory (explanation below).

The expression “your mother wears army boots” dates, as far as I can tell, from the First World War. Impoverished or displaced civilians would strip clothing—including, yes, military-issue boots—from corpses on the battlefield, and it was commonplace for “camp followers”—prostitutes serving the soldiers at encampments—to wear such clothing. So “your mother wears army boots” was an insult; it was the same thing, essentially, as saying, “Thou son of a cheap whore.”

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Comments

Desultory - des-uhl-tawr-ee, -tohr-ee

  1. lacking in consistency, constancy, or visible order, disconnected; fitful: desultory conversation.
  2. digressing from or unconnected with the main subject; random: a desultory remark.