put the lime in the coconut (fadedjae) wrote in steeltrap,
put the lime in the coconut

The Word Origin Calendar

nincompoop - In legalese, non compos mentis means that a defendant is not mentally sound enough to represent his or her affairs or person. Samuel Johnson, the great English lexicographer, suggested that this phrase is the origin of "nincompoop," meaning an incompetent or foolish person. The evidence for the connection is scant, and the term may instead have been a slangy extension of the word "ninny."

snarky - To be "snarky" is to be archly irritable or short-tempered. The adjective, once found almost exclusively in British English, dates to 1906. In the postwar era, Americans discovered the term and have happily used it ever since. It originates in the old verb to snark, meaning to make a kind of nose-trumpeting snort of the kind a disbelieving listener might make on hearing a preposterous claim.

picnic - This term for an alfresco meal has common origins with the word pique. In French, that means "pick at," as with a chisel or a knife - or perhaps a fork. The French word for the meal is pique-nique, the latter term being a sort of baby-talk rhyme.

sledgehammer - Grisly as it sounds, some sturdy warriors a thousand years ago preferred to fight not with swords or spears but with huge iron hammers that could crack armor open as if it were a walnut. Originally called simply a "sledge," such an implement bore the name of its functions: it comes from the same root as our word slay. The redundant "hammer" was added in the late eighteenth century.

hypochondria - The term "hypochondria" comes from the Greek words hypo, under, and chondria, ribs, and refers to the place where the bodily humors governing health and illness were thought to reside.

bumpkin - This unflattering word for a rural dweller has been in English for centuries. The word comes from the Dutch boomken, "little tree," which was presumably used to suggest shortness and stoutness.
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