Ok, not really a “Wrong Word Wednesday” but it’s all about the fascinating linguistics of English language history. I watched a QI Special over Christmas and during a discussion of Dr. Johnson, they came up with several terms and phrases that were Quite Interesting that I wouldn’t mind were introduced to the English language. So I did some digging around, and here are some of my favourites.
- Mouth-friend: have you ever met one of those people who merely claim to be your friend? They might be two-faced, or they might just keep you around to boost their own egos. A friend you only hear from when they are single, perhaps? These people simply say they are your friend but their actions suggest otherwise. They are a mouth-friend.
- Shapesmith: Now, GIS technicians might have a different idea of what this might be, but a shapesmith advises you on self-improvement of the body. Yes, a shapesmith is a Personal Trainer! Did you think that was a modern career choice? Think again! Shapesmithing has been around since before the time of Johnson.
- Stockjobber: Few have ever trusted these people, especially today, and the lowest point for their public perception was the 1980s. “Stockjobber” was considered a slur but today, we simply call them Stock traders
- Spermologer: Ooh er, this one sounds a little rude and I know what you think it is or sounds like, but I’m afraid it is nothing that crude – though they are slightly related. A spermologer was once a hobby from a time when botany was common study amongst gentlemen and ladies of quality – a spermologer studied seeds. Today, these people are known as palynologists and will also study pollen, spores and other plant microfossils
- Beef-witted: If you think about this, it’s actually quite obvious. It is a rather imaginative way to call somebody “stupid” After all, cows are not particularly clever creatures and they are not known for any form of intelligence. Hence, we refer to “herd mentality” and a woman being a “stupid cow”.
- Curmuring: is that low, rumbling growl that your bowels make. It is not a fart – nor is it a stomach rumbling – yet it’s somewhere between the two because it is in your bowel rather than your stomach, but the air is not being expelled from your body.
If you know any more good ones, list them here!