I've only ever seen pander used as a platonic verb meaning "to please others", but apparently it also had historical senses of "to sexually gratify" and "to pimp". The verb form evolved in the early seventeenth century from a previous definition of "pimp", and that was borrowed around 1450 from Pandero, the name of a character who set his cousin up with a Trojan prince in a twelfth-century poem by Italian writer Giovanni Boccaccio. Boccaccio was further inspired by Pandaros, a character in Homer's Iliad who had nothing to do with prostitution whatsoever. Finally, his name is composed of the prefix pan-, meaning "all" (from Proto-Indo-European pant, also "all"), the root dero, meaning "to flay" (from Proto-Indo-European der, "to tear", and the noun-forming suffix -os.
9/3/2020 08:53:09 am
You sometimes run across it in police procedurals, where someone is charged with pandering. That's the only time I've heard is used for the pimpin' charge. Otherwise, like you, "crowd pleasing" to verging on unctuous.
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Hello! I'm Adam Aleksic. This year, I graduated from Harvard University with a degree in Government and Linguistics. There, I co-founded the Harvard Undergraduate Linguistics Society and wrote a thesis on Serbo-Croatian language policy, magna cum laude. In addition to etymology, I also really enjoy trivia, politics, vexillology, geography, board games, conlanging, art history, and law.