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Peeping Tom:

Or: peeping Tom / Peeping Tommy , a popular name for a pruriently prying person or voyeur .

ETYMOLOGY: The term dates back to about 1796, but the legend dates back to the 11 th century story of Lady Godiva of Coventry who agreed to ride through the marketplace stark-naked if her husband , Leofric, earl of Mercia and lord of Coventry, would reduce the heavy tax on his subjects. When she agreed to the dare, he imposed a decree that all citizens had to stay indoors and keep their shutters drawn. All but one did, Tom, the city tailor who was struck blind (or dead).

SYNONYMS: benrus-queen ; Bo-Peep; doodle-gazer ; eyeball-queen ; Lady-Elgin ; lookie-freak ; peek (or peep) freak ; peep ; peeping Tom; spy-queen ; voyeur ; watch-queen .

QUOTE: Captain Francis Grose in Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue (1811): ' A nick name for a curious prying fellow; derived from an old legendary tale, told of a taylor of Coventry, who, when Godiva countess of Chester rode at noon quite naked throuth that town, in order to procure certain immunities for the inhabitants, (nothwithstanding the rest of the people shut up their houses) slily peeped out of his window, for which he was miraculously struck blind . His figure , peeping out of a window, is still kept up in remembrance of the transaction .'

See Also: benrus queen, Bo Peep, doodle gazer, eyeball queen, keek, Lady Elgin, lookie freak, one-on-one booth, peek freak, peep, peeper, Peeping Tom, peer queer, raree show, spy queen, tom-tom, Tomasina, voyeur, watch and jack

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