By Anatoly Liberman

It has actually been a tempestuous month in the world but a quiet one in the room of English etymology. Both the comments and also the concerns I received faced separate words, and there have been no too countless of them.

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Lollygag. In July 2007 I already wrote what ns thought about this word. Although many people, at the very least in America, to speak lollygag, its doublet lallygag is well-known. The sport is typical. We are managing a sound imitative or perhaps sound symbolic complex endowed with a pass out sense, and also vowel alternations emphasize the scope and also fluidity that its an interpretation (a an excellent example that what semioticians speak to iconicity). External English and also partly in it, consisting of its previous periods, rather countless words start with lall– and also lill-, synonymous with loll-; also, lolly when meant “tongue.” even Engl. lull is “sort of” (those around me to speak “kinda”) related. Nor are compounds through loll– too rare. I could cite loblolly “thick gruel” (to be strictly differentiated from the thin gruel Oliver Twist to be fed), later on “bumpkin, hayseed, hillbilly,” and lollypop, together with British dialectal lollpot “lazy, hover fellow” and lollypot “idiot.”

Lollygag as well is more than likely of dialectal origin. Back seemingly an Americanism, lollygag aligns itself very well with lollypot and also the rest. Gag is another sound imitative word, as confirmed by gaggle, giggle, dialectal guggle, and their kin. Loll- consists the territory from mumbling come loafing; gag- describes actions as various as choking and also cheating. Conjoined, they create the result of a wasteful activity, whose overtones vary. A specific challenge in etymologizing such formations is the dubious personality of the 3rd vowel. Perhaps lollygag emerged as loll-a-gag (compare lack-a-daisical, jack-a-napes, rag-a-muffin, and also so forth). In pronunciation, the difference between connecting i and a is not too significant. Anyway, lollygag resembles the tautological compounds discussed in the vault post. Both elements of this verb seem come mean around “kill time.” Those space odd words: lollygag, bullyrag, scalawag….

Theodore Roosevelt’s bully pulpit. We have actually fallen food to the pass out of the word bully. Roosevelt to be fond of the adjective bully, which in his usage meant “excellent.” He, fairly correctly, thought that the White residence is a splendid (“bully”) place for propagating ideas. Because the confident sense the bully is now almost forgotten, most world understand the expression as referring to a communication from i m sorry you have the right to bully her opponents.

Fowl and dog. ns agree the no facts militate versus connecting fowl with fly. Yet is this sufficient for the onus probandi? Unfortunately, facts supporting the source of fowl native fly are likewise absent. The concern should, the necessity, continue to be open. As for dog, I, naturally, have read the relevant write-up in Indogermanische Forschungen (naturally, because I routinely follow the key publications because that my database and later shot to record up with the less visible journals). The hypothesis said there is one of many. Perhaps it solves the problem, and also perhaps it does not. The other words that the same kind (pig, stag, frog, and one or two others) are also obscure, together is, incidentally, fox. The Indo-European source of hound is reconstructible, yet its an interpretation is not. We can only say that people called the dog a “dog.”

Bald-faced lie. This is a late phrase, apparently, one American (US) modification of barefaced lie. Its beginning is not rather clear. Perhaps it describes a “white,” the is, “unblushing,” fairly than hairless, face. Just guesswork, as soon as again quoting Skeat’s favorite phrase. Bold-faced lie is an modification of the otherwise incomprehensible locution, a product of folk etymology. While on this topic, ns may cite the circumstance the Mr. Verdant Greene, the hero that Cuthbert Bede’s evergreen novel, checked out Brazenface College, Oxford, which, though normally full, to be not well-known for “overcrowding” and was by all accounts a nicer place than Mr. Squeers’s Dotheboys room (Nicholas Nickleby).

Fresh and stale tidbits

Spelling. The just practical means to revolutionary English order is come get an extremely many world involved. This means inundating newspapers and journals with letters come the editor. In 1907 Charles P. G. Scott, the etymologist for The Century Dictionary and a passionate support of Spelling revolutionary in the United claims was in a place to announcement in The Nation: “Information top top this subject might be had actually by composing to the streamlined Spelling Board, No. 1 Madison Avenue, brand-new York,” and the Board’s headquarters bombarded the media through letters and also discussion. So far, regardless of a couple of splashes, the reformers have kept the proverbial short profile.

More from The Nation. Chicago, ns understand, remained in narrow straits in ~ the start of the nineteenth century. One reads in a letter responding come Professor Blackburn’s address to the central Division that the modern Language association of America (1906): “Where shall we find the teacher who may ‘do much’ to regain to our children their shed inheritance? no in Chicago’s schools. Here, I have the right to assure him, the will uncover dozens of colleges in which no one teacher is qualified of setup an instance of pure and beautiful speech.” it is constantly comforting to know that our ancestors were together ignorant together we are.

Back come Chicago: CBS and its Progeny. apart from what anyone recognizes, CBS method hundreds of useless things, for example, “can’t it is in stuffed” and also “can’t stop laughing.” This type of English has end up being a curse come those who have actually not master it. The trouble is no new. A hundred year ago, there was “an eruption in Chicago of the expression curious to know.” One renowned journalist was so fond the it the he created c2k instead. Our innovations are much from original.

A second lease. Words have tendency to disappear and also then return with a vengeance. The an initial edition of the OED taped obese in 1651, then in 1654, and never again till 1822. Close to it is occupy, which quite at an early stage acquired the feeling “cohabit” and was as such avoided in the seventeenth and most of the eighteenth century. Who can have assumed that both words, particularly obese, would come to be so typical in our life!

Scots and English. speaker on both sides of the Atlantic will certainly be enjoy it to watch how plenty of forms considered Scots in 1760 are now appropriate English, sometimes depending upon where it is spoken. Right here are a couple of samples indigenous an write-up printed in Scots Magazine 22, 1760, pp. 686-688:

Sc. friends and also acquaintances / Engl. friends and acquaintance (for jane Austen, ns remember, acquaintance, was just a cumulative noun: “those v whom one is acquainted”);Sc. maltreat / Engl. abuse;Sc. proven /Engl. proved;Sc. pled / Engl. pleaded;Sc. incarcerate / Engl. imprison;Sc. tear to pieces / Engl. tear in pieces.

(To it is in continued.)

Friends and also acquaintance

Sequence that tenses.

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part time ago, I detailed that journalists use would because that no apparent reason: that is no the subjunctive nor the so-called future in the past. Right here is a characteristic passage: “Obama has been clean for an ext than a year the he would resist direct U.S. Intervention, but in respectable he said one situation would reason him come revisit the position.” only the 2nd would renders sense to me, for ns doubt that the very first one way “would rather.” I supposed will resist.

Anatoly Liberman is the writer of indigenous Origins…And how We understand Them as well as An Analytic dictionary of English Etymology: one Introduction. His tower on native origins, The Oxford Etymologist, appears here, each Wednesday. Send your etymology concern to him treatment of