Friday, August 31, 2007

Tools of the Trade III, II

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:

Buffoon
Brouhaha
Irregardless
Wombat

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!

6 comments:

SamRiddleburger said...

No, don't give it up! I enjoy reading your summaries and hearing what words other people are wondering about.
Plus, i don't believe anything I read online...

Katia said...

Linda, I bet you were, like me, the type of child who "read" the dictionary. I agree with samriddleburger, plus, reading yours is like getting a digest. If I venture on this online entimology dictionary, I wont be able to disconnect - you know, you read one entry, then another one, and, oh, that's so interesting, ok, another one, and next thing I know, I'll stop eating - that's Ok - drinking - not good - writing - bad - and taking care of my family - definitely not recommended :)

Katia said...

Me again. Just had another proof of the fact that I don't trust myself enough. It maybe has to do with the fact that I don't write in my first language, but still. I read "entimology" on your post, thought, mm, bizarre, I would have written it etimology, and proceeed to write it just like you, only to discover, when I bookmarked the website - never know, one day when I'm all alone for an entire week - that it is, indeed, etimology. Agh. A slip of the finger. We call that a "coquille", in journalistic French by the way, coquille meaning a shell.

LindaBudz said...

Katia, Yes, it is addictive! And thanks for catching my error! I guess I had that "n" in my head because my step-daughter took an entomology class last semester (the study of bugs). She loved it ... which I CANNOT begin to understand ... not that it wouldn't be interesting, but she had to, ya know, touch bugs. Gaaah!

Anyway, Katia and Sam, I suppose the people have spoken. The two of you probably represent close to a majority of my readership, so I will follow your wishes and continue this feature in future posts. Thanks much for weighing in! And I am glad you enjoy it!!

Now, off to fix that typo....

Katia said...

Didn't know that entimology was actually a word. Great, I learned something else. It may be useful in the future, as my own daughter likes nothing better than catching bugs and putting them in a bucket fitted with a magnifying glass - present from her godmother, it would NEVER occur me to buy something like that - and examine them for hours on end. Did you say bizarre ?

LindaBudz said...

Ah, sounds like an entymologist in training!