Bow Legged Woman – Meaning, Origin and Usage

Have you come across several related but distinct phrases about “bow legged women” — and are you now wondering why you should or shouldn’t go swimming with them? This post unpacks the meaning and origin of these phrases.


Bowlegs (medically called genu varum) are legs with a deformity that makes them curved — like a bow. Bowlegs therefore resemble the shape of two brackets: ().

Several related sayings have emerged:

  • Don’t go swimming with bow legged women” is a slightly vulgar phrase that essentially warns men to stay away from promiscuous women (who “open their legs” easily, hence the reference to bowlegs).
  • Here’s to swimming with bow legged women” is a quote that comes from the movie Jaws, and that can be taken to have the opposite meaning — if you “want some”, get it where you can.

Example Usage

Are you curious how you might be able to put these sayings about bow legged women into action? Take a look at these examples:

  • “Stay away from that one, son! Haven’t you heard that thing about not swimming with bow legged women?”
  • “You bet I’m planning to go swimmin’ with plenty of bow legged women!”


The phrases “don’t go swimming with bow legged women” (which also appears as “never go swimming with bow legged women”) and “here’s to swimming with bow legged women” are quite interesting to unpack.

Readers should be aware that these phrases are vulgar in nature, however.

In these sayings, “bow legged women” represent “loose” or promiscuous women, as bowlegs are perpetually “open”, in this case acting as a metaphor for the idea that such women would be interested in male advances.

“Swimming” enters the picture simply because it loosely rhymes with “women”, and in this case acts as a metaphor for sex.

The phrase is associated with a song, sung to the tune of Popeye, which included the line “I’m Popeye the sailor man, I likes to go swimmin’ with bow legged women”. This version likely got started after kids in the 1950s and ‘60s experimented with inappropriate jokes.

The phrase “here’s to swimming with bow legged women” appeared in the famous movie Jaws, thereby prolonging its existence in popular culture.

Given the fact that “here’s to swimming with bow legged women”, “don’t go swimming with bow legged women”, and related phrases do not have entries on Urban Dictionary would suggest that bow legged women are no longer talked about in this way, and that related sayings have now become archaic.

Phrases Similar to Bow Legged Woman

The “bow legged women” in the sayings about (not) swimming with them are promiscuous. Other terms for this concept include:

  • Slut
  • Hoe
  • Skank
  • Loose
  • Easy

Similar terms for promiscuous men tend to sound less negative, and include womanizer, himbo (from the combination “him” and “bimbo”), stud, and player.

If you are looking for a gender-neutral term, you can just say that the person likes to “sleep around”.

Phrases Opposite to Bow Legged Woman

The opposite of a “bow legged women”, meaning a derogatory word for a promiscuous woman, could be:

  • Prude
  • Frigid

If you take away the negative connotation, you can also simply say “monogamous”, “choosy” or “picky”, or say that the woman has “high standards”.

What Is the Correct Saying?

The correct saying would be “don’t go swimming with bow legged women”, “never go swimming with bow legged women”, or “here’s to swimming with bow legged women”.

The bow legged women in question are ones that will “spread their legs easily”.

Ways People May Say Bow Legged Woman Incorrectly

Since these phrases are now dated, most younger people will have no idea what bow legged women are or why you would or wouldn’t go swimming with them.

Related phrases can also be considered to be politically incorrect as bowlegs represent a disability.

Acceptable Ways to Phrase Bow Legged Woman

You can use the phrases “don’t go swimming with bow legged women” or “here’s to swimming with bow legged women” in sufficiently impolite company, when you know your audience will know what you’re talking about.

To call someone a bow legged woman is to call her easy or promiscuous — and that’s not just rude, but also likely to be lost on most younger people, who simply won’t know the phrase.

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