Though these days the term wordmonger refers to "a writer or speaker who uses language pretentiously or carelessly," please join me in proposing a new meaning. A fishmonger appreciates and promotes fish, therefore, a wordmonger does the same for words.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Craziness


Craziness

With the primaries in full swing, there is a lot going on. Some might say a lot of - craziness. So here’s a look at a small percentage of the many words and idioms we use to mean crazy.

The word loop came from a Celtic word meaning bend. Its related adjective, loopy, entered the language in 1825. Loopy's literal meaning was full of loops & its figurative meaning was cunning & deceitful. In 1923 loopy picked up a second figurative meaning, crazy.

The Old English word hnutu, meaning hard seed, gave us the word nut. Its adjective form, nutty meant nut-like back in the 1400s, but by the 1800s nutty began meaning crazy. This started at a time when nut was a synonym for head. We still see that meaning in the idiom off one’s nut, which brings us back to ways of saying crazy.

Wacky, or whacky, was born in 1935 of the idea that anyone who’d been whacked in the head might get a little, well, loopy. Being whacked in the head could even knock someone off his nut. Also from the notion of being whacked in the head, the word bonkers, meaning crazy, showed up in 1957. It seems to have sprung forth from its 1948 definition, a bit drunk.

One could say the history of the word unhinged is a bit unhinged. The earliest use of the term came from 1612 & oddly, was the figurative meaning, a disordered mind. It wasn’t until 1616 that someone wrote down unhinge in its literal sense, to remove a door from its hinges. Odder still, it took until 1758 for someone to write down the verb hinge.

Any thoughts on all this craziness? If so, please express yourself in the comments section. Also, feel free to suggest your favorite colorful synonyms for crazy. There are a bunch I haven’t yet covered.


Big thanks to this week’s sources: Etymonline, Wordnik, Merriam-Webster, & the OED.

3 comments:

  1. That is amazing about "unhinged". It happened backwards! I've always liked the word bonkers, and I had no idea the current meaning was so new.

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    1. Hi Anne - I've always had a fondness for "bonkers" too. And the fully backward nature of "unhinged" (at least in the writings people can find today) is fascinating.

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  2. ERRR, UMMM, AHHH, I'VE HEARD THAT LUNATIC HAD SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE MOON (LATIN: LUNA) WHICH IS SUPPOSED TO HAVE THE POWER TO DRIVE A PERSON NUTSOLA. ES VERDAD?

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