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Where Did The Term ‘Peeping Tom’ Come From?

We know a ‘peeping tom’ as person who secretly watches someone else. What will surprise you is where the term comes from because it’s not what you might think. The term actually has it’s roots in taxation….I know…..taxation is the root of all evil. The phrase actually stems from the legend of Lady Godiva who by the way, had nothing to do with Godiva Chocolates. She was a noble woman who lived in the 11th century.

The story goes that Lady Godiva was very upset over the heavy tax burdens her husband placed on the poor people of Coventry, England. She did everything she could to get him to reduce the taxes. He finally grew tired of her pleas and decided to make a bargain with her. If she rode through the town competely naked, covered only by her long flowing hair, he would grant her request.

Lady Godiva accepted the challenge, even thought he probably thought she would never go through with it. Before her ride, she warned all of the townspeople to stay inside and close their shutters and doors. Only one man disobeyed her request and his name was in fact, Tom.

Peeping Tom tried to catch a glimpse of Godiva as she rode by and this is where ‘karma’ intervenes. The legend says that Tom was struck blind by his misdeed and Lady Godiva was the last woman he ever laid eyes on…..who knew?

[Encyclopedia Romana

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Jugbo / Flickr

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