Friday, December 03, 2004

Gongogoozler or Mammothrept?

In case you’re wondering what a Gongogoozler is, it is an idle and inquisitive person who stands staring for prolonged periods at anything out of the common. At least that’s what the word meant in 1896.

In the interest of following Oh Ancient One’s advice to me (that would be Grandmother Alice, who never let us call her "Grandma" because it made her sound old, but said at 100 that we could call her "Oh Ancient One"), dispensed at various times over the course of my life whether I wanted it or not and whether or not the circumstances were appropriate for her to say “try to keep a bright outlook on things,” I have decided that I am powerless over pretty much anything that does not involve direct action or effort on my part. I will, therefore, concentrate on keeping a positive attitude. Or bright outlook. Or light frame of mind. You know, there are an awful lot of expressions that seem to say: Don’t Worry, Be Happy.” And the aforementioned are not always easy for someone like me, since I’m often an anti social, human hating sloth that would rather sit home in my own sin.

Since there are so many synonymous expressions in the English language for always looking on the bright side of life, let’s look, in the interest of FUN, at some long forgotten English expressions that I think should find their way back into everyday discourse. Okay, they are insults. To fling. Which falls better into my “I don’t hate people, I just feel better when they are not around” frame of mind that I frequently try to hide from others in the interest of maintaining the ancient and forgotten custom of civility. Now some of these expressions don’t necessarily have a contemporary match, so I’m just itching to find new situations to throw these old chestnuts into the fray. Here are a few to start:

Johnny-Raw: A raw beginner; a novice; a boor. (John Ogilvie’s Comprehensive English Dictionary, 1865) The applications here could interesting.

Cousin-Betty: A deranged woman. Cousin-Tommy is applied to a man in that melancholy situation. (William Carr’s Dialect of Craven, 1828) Since I can apply this term to ME, I would like to be called Betty for the rest of the day, please.

Gammerstang: Usually applied to a female of idle, loose habits (C. Clough Robinson’s Dialect of Mid-Yorkshire, 1876) Well then. Perhaps I should change my nom de plume from Millicent Frastley to Betty Gammerstang. Has a bit of a ring.

Crump: "One that helps solicitors to affidavit-men and swearers...who, for a small sum will be bound or swear for anybody, on that occasion putting on good clothes to make a good appearance that bail may be accepted." (B.E.’s Dictionary of the Canting Crew, 1699) – I’m pretty sure they are referring to lawyers here. Maybe paralegals. But definitely lawyers.

Fumbler: An unperforming husband, one that is insufficient: fumbler’s hall, the place where such are to be put for their nonperformance. (B.E.’s Dictionary of the Canting Crew, 1699) – Ladies, they had a punishment for this offense as far back as 1699. Think about that for a moment.

Sinworm: A vile, sinful creature. (Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language, 1755) I like it. Though I think the definition is more fun to say. VILE is just a great word.

And here’s a great one that resonates well for me personally...

Counter-Caster: Contemptuous name for an arithmetician. (Thomas Browne’s Union Dictionary, 1810) It just tickles me that at some point in time an arithmetician made someone, or society as a whole, so annoyed that they had to come up with a contemptuous name. “Nerd” is just not a word that says "contempt."

See if you can find excuses to use any of the above words over the next few days. It’ll be a hoot.


Blogger Laura said...

Sinworm. I'm pretty sure I'll be able to come up with a use for that. "Shut up, you SINWORM!!!" I like it.

04 December, 2004 07:55  
Blogger R said...

I used the word Crump on my friend who is a lawyer. I just kept substituting her name for Crrrrump. (I found it is much more annoying, re:exciting, if you roll the rrrr)Bugged her no end. I told her that for a small sum of money she would bound or swear ANYBODY. She informed me the sum would not be so small. *sigh*

04 December, 2004 11:47  
Blogger Grillo said...

Johnny-Raw...I like it! Nice post.

06 December, 2004 00:42  
Blogger ThomasMcCay said...

Still, enquiring minds want to know, what is a mammothrept?

06 December, 2004 11:23  

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