Pay For A Date, an “upcoming online dating platform” based in the UK, is, according to its Twitter bio, “dedicated to the joy of dating where quality, not quantity, is the measure of our dating success.”
Heterosexuals only? Gravity-defying women only?
The problem with the company’s name? In the U.S., when you combine pay for and date, you get prostitution. That’s because for more than 80 years, date has been American slang for a transaction with a hooker.
My source is the trustworthy Random House Historical Dictionary of American Slang, Vol. 1, by Jonathan Lighter, which gives this definition:
date n. Pros. a sexual transaction with a prostitute; (hence) a prostitute’s customer; TRICK. Also as v.
The earliest citation is from a 1957 memoir, The D.A.’s Man, by Harold R. Danforth and James D. Horan. Danforth had been an investigator in the New York County District Attorney’s office between 1935 and 1951; the citation refers back to 1942:
There were four girls, one named Ruth, who gave me her address for a “date” before I left.
That’s “date” – wink-wink, nudge-nudge.
But our friends across the pond may be unfamiliar with this slang meaning. In a private tweet, slang expert Jonathon Green, author of the three-volume Green’s Dictionary of Slang, told me “date” isn’t used by hookers in the UK. He says their coded phrase is “Are you looking for business?”
As long as PFAD limits its activities to the UK, maybe no one will get the wrong idea. But the company chose to follow me on Twitter – who knows why – so that dubious name has already crossed the Atlantic.
And even if a date is just a date in England, and this is a question of two cultures separated by a common language, I’d argue that “paying for it” has universally unsavory overtones.
You’re still a freshly minted startup, PFAD. It’s not too late to change that snicker- and cringe-inducing name.