Have A Gay Old Time / Mythology

  • In ye olde times, "rape" referred to kidnapping or assault, and not necessarily sexual violence (though that was often the implication, which gave rise to the word's modern meaning). Hence the Rape of Persephone, the Rape of the Sabine Women, and The Rape of the Lock. "Rape" was used for willing elopements too. From the perspective of the woman's family, she'd been stolen from them whether or not she consented. There was also an assumption that if she was recovered by her family, she'd claim sexual violence to preserve her reputation even if she had consented. Values Dissonance also plays a role here, since according to the patriarchal paradigms of Ancient Greece, the only consent that mattered was that of a woman's male authority figure, typically her father or husband.
  • In order to impregnate Danae, Zeus took the form of a "shower of gold". In American English, the phrase "golden shower" refers to a sex act involving urination.
  • The fable of the little Dutch boy who saved the Netherlands by "sticking his finger in the dyke," meaning he plugged a hole in a dam directing water away. "Dyke" is one of many slang terms for a lesbian (particularly used in the phrase "bull dyke" to describe a lesbian woman who looks like a man). And the less said about the "sticking his finger" part, the better...
  • One particularly recent and non-sexual example is the word "troll". For most of the word's history, its primary meaning was a mythological creature. But in the age of the Internet, even though the old meaning is still used regularly, "troll" has also come to mean someone who enjoys stirring up conflict in online communities. (Eventually it came to mean any sort of troublemaker.) Nowadays, many young people snicker at stories about trolls like they would snicker about the word "gay" being used to mean "happy."
    • Trolling is also a fishing method; in fact, the act of posting Flame Bait or bizarre statements to get a reaction was called "trolling" from the fishing term but people began associating it with the mythical creature as well, giving us two previous meanings displaced.
  • The story of Balaam from The Bible (Numbers 22) is chock full of unintentionally amusing lines regarding Balaam's ass. Mention is made of how Balaam "smote the ass with his staff" (22:27). In 22:30, it asks him "Am not I thine ass, upon which thou hast ridden ever since I was thine unto this day?" Because of this the story has on occasion been jokingly summarized as "God visited Balaam and talked out of his ass."
  • Some translations of the Bible refer to sacrifices as "holocausts". Yeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaah, doesn't exactly have the same ring to it today...
  • Another non-sexual example is the former name of the Holy Spirit in Christianity (particularly, but not solely, Catholicism), the Holy Ghost. It's still used sometimes, but was phased out in favor of "Holy Spirit" because the meaning of "ghost" narrowed to specifically mean the spirit of a person who'd died, and use of it, especially in instruction to children, was bringing up the wrong images, either too scary or funny ones like a Bedsheet Ghost or similar.