May 05, 2007

The Seven-year Itch

The inclination to become unfaithful after seven years of marriage.

Remember Marilyn Monroe's dress blowing in the wind over a subway grating? One of the most enduring images from Hollywood, the scene was from the movie, The seven-year itch. The expression was used to indicate the urge for infidelity after seven years of marriage. Though today it has gained wider acceptance in terms of its scope: it now refers to an urge to move on from any existing situation, and not even limited to those of seven years' period.

The original seven-year itch wasn't a condition that supposedly began after seven years, but one that supposedly lasted for seven years. Seven-year itch had been known in the USA since the early 19th century as the name of a particularly irritating and contagious skin complaint (don't ask me which one, coz despite thorough search I could not find the answer to that: it could be scabies or poison-ivy itch (very unlikely though) ) that led to highly irritating red pimples on the face and body.

The term was virtually forgotten after the cure for the complaint was found till the 1955 film revived it.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/ , http://www.phrases.org.uk/,

Update: (05/05/07) by 666

The follow-up research to Moi’s post was incredibly fascinating. I came across numerous citations (mentioned below) explaining some sort of link between ‘seven year itch’ and scabies.

The 'seven year itch' has its origins with a microbe known as Sarcoptes scabiei, more commonly called 'scabies.' The bug produces an itching skin irritation that before modern drugs lasted, on average seven years.
"Why seven years, not six or eight? Because seven years has a historical basis: In Genesis, Joseph interprets Pharaoh's dream of 'seven years of great plenty' followed by 'seven years of famine.'." And so forth. – (1)

However, the medico’s have a slightly different version. Scabies is known as "The Seven Year Itch," because its incidence rises and falls as regularly as the tides, or the sunspots, turning up in abundance every seven years. – (2)

Read in detail about scabies here and here.

Sources
(1) - http://www.phrases.org.uk
(2) - http://www.ralphmag.org/DI/scabies1.html

6 comments:

666 said...

thats interesting!

lemme give the 7 year search a try as well. till then keep scratching!

suramya said...

whoa :), the seven year itch sure is special, loads of interesting facts behind it

Moi said...

goodness....how did ppl live with it for 7 yrs ??? 666, ever thought of doing a PhD...my prof. wud luv to have someone who's so tremendously inclined towards research ...:DD
neat work..and i kept looking for the disease they were talking abt but in vain....

AlterinG Abhishek said...

wao!!
and i must must complement "666" being amazingly methodical ..

( also, my mom really liked this blog.. being a specialist in teaching English speaking and language, she loved this kind of initiative...)

Though she's not quite a blog/ computer savvy yet...but i am working on it!!

666 said...

@abhishek: we are really honored that your mom appreciated the blog. Would love to have her views and suggestions.Further, it would be awesome if she can do a guest post for us !!!

Cheerio

Jas Bhambra said...

Hmmm, finally a scientific origin to a phrase as well!! :)