Roues and Cads

So I’m listening to The Sound of Music soundtrack today, and singing along to the pre-feminist Sixteen Going On Seventeen when I encounter a line I’ve never really heard before:

Eager young lads, and roues and cads
Will offer you food and wine

What the hell is a roue? explains:

rou·é (noun)

A lecherous dissipated man. Also, one devoted to a life of sensual pleasure; a debauchee; a rake.

[French, from past participle of rouer, to break on a wheel (from the feeling that such a person deserves that punishment), from Old French, from Latin rotre, to rotate. See rotate.]

A particularly interesting etymology, don’t you think?


  1. June 2010 — I just have been wondering what the hell it was too. Fantastic to find your old side.

  2. I have heard yet a different etymology. The roue, or the wheel, was a device of certain early french orphanages where young mothers who could not raise their children could leave them to be taken care of by whatever the religious order ran the orphanage. And, raised fatherless and motherless, young men who were abandoned at the roue were thus supposedly prone to a lifetime of debauchery. At least, that’s what I heard, but I’m in no way a scholar.

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