What Did You Call It? A History of the Vajayjay

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The New York Times tells the story of how a silly-sounding word reached the ear of a powerful TV producer, and in only seconds of air time 18 months ago, expanded the vocabularies â€" for better or worse â€" of legions of Americans.

Vajayjay.

On February 12, 2006, viewers of Grey's Anatomy heard the character, Miranda Bailey, a pregnant doctor who had gone in labor, admonish one of her young interns, stating emphatically "O'Malley... stop looking at my vajayjay!"

The line sprang from a producer's need to mollify standards and executives who wanted the script to include fewer mentions of the word vagina.

The scene, however, had the unintended effect of catapulting vajayjay (also written va-jay-jay) into mainstream speech. Grey's Anatomy fans expressed their approval of the word on message boards,

Va-Jay-Jay

The swift adoption of vajayjay is not simply about pop culture's ability to embrace slang. Neologisms are always percolating. What it really demonstrates, say some linguists, is a vacuum in popular discourse, a need for a word for female genitalia that is not clinical, crude, misogynistic or descriptive from a man's point of view.

Shonda Rhimes, creator and executive producer of Grey's Anatomy, brought the word into full view, but never intended to promote a euphemism or slang for the female anatomy. Rather, she fought to use vagina in the script.

"I had written an episode during the second season of Grey's in which we used the word vagina a great many times (perhaps 11)," Rhimes wrote to the Times. "Now, we'd used the word penis 17 times in a single episode and no one blinked. But with vagina, the good folks at broadcast standards and practices blinked over and over and over. I think no one is comfortable experiencing the female anatomy out loud â€" which is a shame considering our anatomy is half the population."

Continue reading about va-jay-jays in the New York Times ...

Steve Marsi is the Managing Editor of TV Fanatic. Follow him on Google+ or email him here.

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Grey's Anatomy Quotes

[narrating] "At the end of the day, when it comes down to it, all we really want is to be close to somebody. So this thing where we all keep our distance and pretend not to care about each other, it's usually a load of bull. So we pick and choose who we want to remain close to, and once we've chosen those people, we tend to stick close by. No matter how much we hurt them. The people that are still with you at the end of the day, those are the ones worth keeping. And sure, sometimes close can be too close. But sometimes, that invasion of personal space, it can be exactly what you need."

MEREDITH

Did you say it? 'I love you. I don't ever want to live without you. You changed my life.' Did you say it? Make a plan. Set a goal. Work toward it, but every now and then, look around; Drink it in 'cause this is it. It might all be gone tomorrow."

Meredith (closing voiceover)