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A cuckold is a married man with an adulterous wife. Due to the word's original meaning, a man who is unwittingly raising another man's child, it refers to a man who is unaware of his victimization. Because of this association, it is one of the few masculine specific words in the English language without a feminine counterpart. In current usage it sometimes refers to non-married couples in committed relationships, although this is not the traditional meaning. A man who knows and acquiesced in his wife’s taking of another lover was called a wittol, itself a derivation from the Middle English for "witting (as in knowing) cuckold."


[edit] History of the term

Cuckold is derived from the Old French for the cuckoo, cocu, with the pejorative suffix -ald. The earliest written use of the Middle English derivation, cokewold, occurs in 1250. The females of certain varieties of cuckoo lay their eggs in other bird’s nests, freeing themselves from the need to nurture the eggs to hatching.

Cuckolds have sometimes been written as "wearing the horns of a cuckold" or just "wearing the horns". This refers to the fact that the man being cuckolded is the last to know of his wife's infidelity. He is wearing horns that can be seen by everybody but him. This also refers to a tradition claiming that in villages of unknown European location, the community would gather to collectively humiliate a man whose wife gives birth to a child recognizably not his own. According to this legend, a parade was held in which the hapless husband is forced to wear antlers on his head as a symbol of his wife’s infidelity. Whether this did actually happen or not is inconsequential as the phrase has survived.

Ca. 1815 French satire on cuckoldry, which shows both men and women wearing horns

In French the term is porter des cornes and is used by Molière to describe someone whose consort has been unfaithful. Molière's L'École des femmes (1662) is the story of a man who mocks cuckolds and becomes one at the end. In Geoffrey Chaucer's Canterbury Tales (c.1372-77), the Miller's Tale is a story that humorously examines the life of a cuckold. The genre has recently been revived by Howard Jacobson in his 2008 novel The Act of Love.

The term dates from the Roman empire[citation needed], since legionaries returning from the war were given horns as a triumph or prize. So, the use of the term is a mockery of the husband, victorious in the battlefield, but defeated in his own bed.

[edit] Cultural usage

In Brazil, Germany, Bulgaria, Greece, Italy, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Czech Republic, Croatia, Hungary, Slovenia, Turkey, Spanish speaking countries and also Arabic speaking countries, "horns" are a metaphor for suffering the infidelity of a partner, not limited to husbands in modern usage. The gesture of the horned hand can be used to insult the cuckold.

The Italian equivalent is cornuto, sharing the same double entendre with the English word cornuted, asserting both featuring horns and cuckolded. Its use is playful and lightheartedly derisive, with little or no particular efficacy in scorning someone during confrontations as it is lacking earnest damning credentials, potentially leading all parties to a chuckle and smothering the feud at its inception. A pervasive metaphor parodies the use of cornuto to great effect: il bue che dà del cornuto all'asino, meaning the ox labelling the donkey cornute, equivalent to pot calling the kettle black.

In Portuguese the terms corno ("horn"), cornudo or chifrudo ("horned") are used to spite or mock the cheated male partner. The expression corno manso ("tame horned") is used to indicate those men who, although cheated by their partners, come to accept it as a fact of their lives.

The Spanish word cornudo is used to describe a male partner whose female partner is sexually unfaithful. A consenting cuckold, cabrón, has such an offensive nuance that it is a taboo word rarely used with its original meaning, "billy goat". However, according to the tone and the relation to the addressed, it can be even laudatory.

The Chinese term for "cuckold" is literally translated to "wearing a green hat" (戴綠帽, dài lǜ mào).[1] It is because of this that it is extremely rare to see any Chinese man wearing a green hat.[2] Chinese Roman Catholic bishops, who in ecclesiastical heraldry would normally have a green galero above their arms, have dispensation to use some other color of galero on account of this custom. Violet is mostly used for Chinese bishops.

In Trinidad & Tobago the term "horn" is used in conjunction with cuckolds, or anyone of either sex who has a cheating spouse. Other uses include "to horn" (to sleep with someone else's spouse), "horning" (the act of cheating on your spouse), "horner-man" (a man who is sleeping with someone else's spouse) and "horner-woman" (a woman who is sleeping with someone else's spouse), "to get horn", "to take (a) horn". It is usually used in a pejorative sense. Numerous calypsoes have been written about the topic; the most famous being "Horn Me Sandra" by the calypsonian known as Lord Kitchener.

This horn analogy extends to Turkey, where the cuckolded husband is termed boynuzlu, "horned one".

[edit] Cuckoldry as a fetish

Cuckoldry as a fetish has been around since at least the time of Leopold von Sacher-Masoch (the writer after whom the term masochism is coined). Sacher-Masoch's wife, Aurora Rümelin, recounts in her memoirs multiple instances of Sacher-Masoch asking, begging and even threatening her to make her cuckold him so he could experience the pain and humiliation of the act. To that end, Sacher-Masoch created multiple opportunities for the adulterous act to occur, none of which were successful. While Rümelin indulged her husband in many of his masochistic requests, due in large part because of her dependence on him to financially support her and her children, she steadfastly refused to cuckold him. Rümelin's refusal to succumb to Sacher-Masoch's cuckolding fantasies was one of the causes of their separation and her subsequent descent into poverty.[citation needed]

The term has acquired additional meanings within certain sub-cultures, referring to couples wherein the female is dominant and she takes on additional partners, while the male takes on a submissive role where he is monogamous to her, or only becoming involved sexually when it is felt to be emotionally supportive of her and her lover, or remaining altogether celibate.

The wife who enjoys cuckoldry is sometimes referred to as a hotwife or cuckoldress. In a broader context, the contrast between a cuckold and the additional male participant is sometimes used to summarize an individual's personality or behavior and the variability commonly seen in male libidos: the cuckold or beta male suggesting a lack of masculinity or alpha male representing that missing masculinity.

Cuckolding among female-dominant couples differs from the original definition of cuckolding in that many of these men are willing to be cuckolded by their wives, sometimes as part of the their sexual fantasy and sometimes because they gain genuine sexual arousal through being humiliated by his wife being better sexually fulfilled with a potentially superior male, or by the wife's domination of her husband by forcing him to give her oral sex after she has had unprotected intercourse with her lover, a process known as 'cleaning up'.

The desire for the male to enjoy being cuckolded is more related to sexual gratification and less about interpersonal ideals (respect, commisary, between the partners).

In most modern cases of cuckolding, the husband usually finds pleasure through that of his wife and they (the wife and extramarital participant) may both enjoy attempting to actively include him in the act of cuckolding as much as possible through serving her. Some common themes include praising her appearance, attempting to stimulate her sexually at the same time as the additional participant, and generally being engrossed in her enjoyment. It is common for the male to be more absorbed with the females pleasure than his own.

While the word defines the cuckold husband as being submissive, powerless and/or in need of humiliation to receive stimulation, contemporary practice suggests that many in such a relationship are experiencing something altogether different from cuckoldry. Rather than passively acceding to the infidelity and desires of an errant wife, this cuckold is more in keeping with the male partners defined in polyamorous, open, or swinging relationships. [3][4][5]

[edit] Cuckquean

The term "cuckold" is exclusively used for a male whose wife takes other partners; a woman whose husband strays in such fashion is known as a cuckquean. [6]

[edit] See also

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