A buxom word. It has echoes of bodacious but clearly carries a more feminine frill, like lace lattice for the body. In modern usage it often travels together with ripping and consequently presents images of romance novel heroines disheveled (and deshabilled) invitingly in vivid paperback cover colours – sometimes with embossing – declaring through half-parted lips to a buff hero (named, say, Rex La Chaise, or the raffish gambler Bo Dice), “Stay! My bod is yours!” And so their pair of bodies merge, somewhere in 17th century England… as did “pair of bodies” into “pair of bodice” in the same chronotope to give us the word we have today, a synonym for stays.

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