When I was ten my mother had to sign documents at the library allowing me to check out adult books. I read voraciously … still do. I started reading romances when I was eleven.
I used to babysit for a lawyer a few houses down. He had the entire collection of Ian Flemming’s 007 series. I read it all by the time I was twelve. Ditto with his wife’s extensive collection of romance novels.
I remember the first time I read the words … “gird his loins.”
Yeowser, what does THAT mean? From the context of the historic “white knight” romance I was reading, it seemed pretty tame. I understood it to mean, get armored up and ready for the joust.
But I kept on looking at the word “loins.” My mind went to “sex.” Heck, I was almost thirteen, where else would it go?
I finally got brave enough to look up “loins” in the HUGE dictionary at the library. I also looked up “gird your loins” in the encyclopaedia. Talk about disappointment. NO sex involved.
What Part Of The Body Does LOINS Refer To?
In human anatomy the term “loin” or “loins” refers to the side of the human body below the rib cage to just above the pelvis. It is frequently used to reference the general area below the ribs. ~https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loin
So according to this definition of loins, it doesn’t include ANY reproductive organs. Tell the truth … are you surprised?
What then, does GIRD Your Loins Mean?
What is the origin of Gird Your Loins?
Appears like it is in the Bible … going way way back. According to the website sarata.com there are 61 Verses About Loins from 23 Books.
The Huffington Post weighs in with …
“Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me.”
The above passage from Job 38:3 is just one of several references in the Bible to “girding up one’s loins” — a directive that may have made sense to an ancient audience but which eludes us today.
The simple reason for misunderstanding is fashion. Men and women in the Biblical era typically wore tunics, which would have understandably gotten in the way whenever a man needed to run, fight or perform hard labor — as men are wont to do, of course.
Men got around this issue by fastening a girdle to their waist and tucking the loose ends of the tunic into it, thus “girding up their loins.”
Here’s a fabulous illustration from artist Ted Slampyak found on the ArtOfManliness.com
At this point I feel compelled to say that loins applies to both men and women, though in historical contexts you most often see it associated with men.
But just to be fair, here is a great illustration of a woman girding her loins.
Image courtesy of https://somethingnewdaily.com
I found the image above posted on a forum. One reader commented “who on earth would ever DO that!” The next comment down was from a woman who wore skirts regularly and rode a bike daily. She said she did it all the time because otherwise her skirt would get tangled in the bike spokes.
So pay attention everyone, because you NEVER KNOW when you will have a compelling need to gird your loins.
In historical novels set during the middle ages, gird your loins appears to mean preparing for battle.
In modern times, it is still used in the context of preparing for battle — with no swords involved. You might gird your loins (tighten your belt, button up) before confronting your boss or a fellow co-worker.
I beg to differ with the good folks at vocabularly.com when they say no one uses gird your loins anymore. I use the phrase quite a lot, not only because it is fun but because it means prepare and strengthen yourself for what is to come.
Please enter your confessions below … what did YOU think gird your loins meant?
My final parting thought?