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Meaning: Having beautiful bottom. No, really. It’s from the Greek kallipygos, from kalli- + pyg? Bottom.
Usage: “Those dusky Afro-Scandinavian bottom, which combine the callipygian rondure observed among the backgrounds of the Dark Country with the taut and respectable musculature of sturdy Olaf, our blond Upper relative. ” — Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow
You should know it because: This is one of the loveliest-sounding words in the English lexicon, and it means, essentially, nice butt. When you say it in Greek, it’s not sexual pestering, though. Somehow I’d forgotten this very shapely word ‘til it was used in a new Yorker story in mention of the (gross, but who else? )#) Ellie Kardashian. Of course, it may be used for Nicki Minaj, who’s all over my Twitter feed after playing the Versace for H&M show and the Victoria’s Secret show in New york this week, or for several hyper-cheeky pop tarts.
It’s said the term came from with the Venus Kallipygos, who removed the golds of her Grecian gown to reveal a certain bootylicious. It came into Great British usage around 1800, when the Brits got obsessed with classic mythology, and it was definitely known in The united states by 1929, when TIME Journal ran an item on the “Callipygian Captain, ” about a woman pretending to be a man in the You. S. Military.
Um, but let’s not leave out the boys: David Bowie was famous as “the nazz with the God-given ass” (to quote their own “Ziggy Stardust” lyric), and James Franco is fortunately continuing the tradition of ambiguously gendered, callipygian it-boydom regarding his new Possess mag cover. Wanna see more?