It's Okay For Men To Be Gross

My beloved wife, the apple of my eye, the very peach of my soul, dislikes it intensely when I bring archaic and outmoded definitions into play during an argument. But that's what I'm going to do here. Not in the unreasonable expectation that everyone is going to change how they define a word, which is what the Peach of My Soul would accuse me of doing. I recognize that language changes, and I love it. Instead, I think that knowing where a word comes from and how it evolved can often help us to use it better.

This is the case with "gross".

Nearly every male experienced a moment (or moments) in grade school when some boyish behavior was deemed boorish by a girl. She exclaimed either "That's disgusting!" or "That's gross!" as if the two phrases were interchangeable. Shame on her for being so careless. Let us pay better attention to how the two words ought to be used.

A male should never to be disgusting on purpose. To be disgusting is to be noxious and obnoxious. To be disgusting is to provoke loathing, repugnance, and aversion. To be disgusting is to be icky and revolting. You discovered as a child that picking your slimy boogers and wiping them on your shirt was disgusting. But you and the girls you knew thought that is was gross as well, and that has affected your adult male life for the poorer. Your woman thinks you're being disgusting when in fact you're just being gross.

Not all men are gross, but it is my firm belief that men should be allowed to be a little gross. I think, women, that you will like your man even more if you communicate that you understand the difference between disgusting and gross.

Gross comes from a French word meaning large and thick. Mardi gras means "fat Tuesday". The worst words the dictionary comes up with to describe "gross" are coarse, unrefined, and vulgar. I admit that definition 6c says it can "inspire disgust". But even there, we see that there's a level of distinction. Gross isn't disgusting, although it might inspire disgust.

Some men are refined and sophisticated in their behavior through every waking moment. They awake as gentlemen and go to bed as cavaliers. And they are manly in doing it; I cast no aspersions.

Other men are a little on the coarse side. And lady, admit that you like that about him. You like that he wears flannel, works with his hands, and hates to shave. You don't like that he chews tobacco and makes occasional fart jokes. But perhaps you can smilingly overlook these small grossnesses, because you understand that it's part of the package. A man who would allow you to suppress all his little coarse behaviors would not be the man you love.

He can promise not to slip into being disgusting, although he's probably not disgusting at all, if you stop and think about it. After all, he's the man you love; he would never want be disgusting to you. And he'll try to be a little less gross, because he loves you in a large, thick way.

P.S. O Peach of My Soul, I've been doing a better job of not burping at the table, haven't I?


  1. I thought this was a totally gross article! ;)

  2. So is it a question of degrees of grossness? Moving from dirt under the fingernails (aw, he works with his hands, how rugged!), to belching at the table (ahem), to not showered in 2 weeks (disgusting)?

  3. Degree to a small degree. But mostly I'm trying to separate the two words. One doesn't lead to another.

  4. Of course, once you bring the French term 'gras' into the discussion, my brain instantly wanders off into thinking about foie gras, i.e. "fat liver", which, despite what you may have been told or think that you know, is not 'gross' in either sense discussed above...


    Back on topic, I would agree that a bit of coarse manliness is what attracted our wives in the first place, and is probably what keeps them around. The battle to change us when we're so damn hard-headed is most of the fun anyway. If they really wanted a companion that obeyed their every whim and never acted out of its own volition, they'd buy a pet rock. And we all know how exciting those are...

  5. Some women have pet rocks. Other women get rocked and petted.


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