With this post, I hereby retire this blog's "Tools of the Trade" feature.
In response to my post earlier this week on word origins, my husband and one of his political cronies inquired about the origins of four additional words:
Alas, not one of these rated an entry in my Dictionary of Word Origins by Joseph Shipley. I was reduced to relying on Google for assistance in the matter, which led to the discovery of a Web site dedicated entirely to word origins, the Online Etymology Dictionary. Seems rather silly for me to continue posting word origins when people can simply go to this site and look up any word they want. (Sigh.)
So, for my grand finale, the origins of the four requested words, as reported by the oh-so-thorough Online Etymology Dictionary:
"Buffoon" is from the French bouffon, which comes from the Italian buffone, meaning jester. This in turn is taken from the Italian word buffare, which means "to puff out the cheeks." Gotta love a culture that has a word meaning to puff out the cheeks!
"Brouhaha" is a French word which was used in medieval theater to describe "the cry of the devil disguised as clergy." This is believed to have been derived from the Hebrew phrase barukh habba', meaning "blessed be the one who comes." Not sure I understand the connection to today's meaning of the word, but there you have it.
"Irregardless" is a combination of the words "irritating" and "regardless," meaning those who use it to signify "regardless" are very irritating. OK, I made that up. According to the online etymology experts, the word is "probably a blend of irrespective and regardless, perhaps inspired by the double negative used as an emphatic." I like my definition better.
"Wombat" is taken from the aboriginal Australian words womback, and wombar. Check out a picture of the little guy below. (You won't find adorable graphics like this at the Online Etymology Dictionary, now will you?)
Update: Due to popular demand (see comments section), I have reconsidered my decision to retire this feature. Watch for "Tools of the Trade IV" to come soon to a blog near you!