Feature Word: Wowser

Definition:

a fanatically puritanical person

Description:

‘Wowser’ is a delightful word with an interesting background, though its ultimate origin is unknown.

The word first appeared in print in 1899, in the Australian journal Truth, and was instantly popular in Australia. It rapidly spread to New Zealand, where it remains in use, and then eventually arrived in England, possibly brought by the Australian troops who served there during World War I.

The American writer and editor H. L. Mencken liked “wowser” and attempted to introduce it to the United States. He used the word frequently in American Mercury, the literary magazine he edited.

Despite Mencken’s efforts, however, the term never became particularly popular in American English; it is used occasionally, but it never truly caught on.

Source:

Merriam Webster's Dictionary

Skullduggery

No Comments

Definition:

Noun.
1. Unscrupulous, deceptive behavior 2. A device used to trick
Alt Spelling: skulduggery
scullduggery, sculduggery
Plural: Skullduggaries

Description:

Skullduggery (spelled with either a “k” or “c” and/or two “l”s) comes from the Scottish word for adultry:  “sculdudrie”.  The word is used in modern parlance as a term for underhanded dealings or trickery, often political in nature.  Ex. The skullduggery that was Watergate.

The word Skullduggery has been used to title various things from a 1970s Burt Reynolds film to the University of Adelaide orientation week, established in 1896.  

See Details

Doozy (Doozie)

2 Comments

Definition:

Noun.
Something that is remarkable, either for it’s level of difficulty or it’s exceptional superiority.

Description:

There is no definitive origin for the word “doozy” but there are at least three main theories, the oldest of which is that it is an adaptation of “daisy,” which was used in 18th century England as a synonym for something or someone of high caliber.

Example: “That horse is a real daisy.  She’s well worth the price!”

Other etymological sources suggest it derives form the nickname for the Dusenberg, a luxury automobile introduced in the US in the 1920s.

A third possibility is that it come from the nickname given to Italian actress Eleanor Duse, who made headlines as beautiful and talented import to the New York theater world in the 1890s.

The definition has expanded in modern parlance from indicating something or someone superior to also including something that is extraordinary in its negative qualities.

Example:  “That test was a real doozy.  I sure hope I passed.”

See Details

Gussied Up

No Comments

Definition:

or ‘gussy up’: to dress up or get decked out in a showy or gimmicky manner; or, to get dressed in one’s best clothes

Description:

This term is of an obscure / unknown origin, but is usually considered an American expression. However, the first recorded use of the word ‘gussy‘ in the Oxford English Dictionary comes from a British source, Morris Marple’s Public School Slang of 1940.

At the end of the 19th Century, both in Australia and in America, the term was used to denote a weak or effeminate person.

Or, the term could be associated with American tennis player “Gorgeous Gussie” Moran who is best remembered for appearing at Wimbledon in 1949 wearing frilly panties — which caused considerable interest and controversy.

See Details

Wowser

No Comments

Definition:

a fanatically puritanical person

Description:

‘Wowser’ is a delightful word with an interesting background, though its ultimate origin is unknown.

The word first appeared in print in 1899, in the Australian journal Truth, and was instantly popular in Australia. It rapidly spread to New Zealand, where it remains in use, and then eventually arrived in England, possibly brought by the Australian troops who served there during World War I.

The American writer and editor H. L. Mencken liked “wowser” and attempted to introduce it to the United States. He used the word frequently in American Mercury, the literary magazine he edited.

Despite Mencken’s efforts, however, the term never became particularly popular in American English; it is used occasionally, but it never truly caught on.

See Details

Smithereens

No Comments

Definition:

fragments, bits

Description:

Despite its American sound and its common use by the fiery cartoon character Yosemite Sam, ‘smithereens’ did not originate in American slang. Although no one is entirely positive about its precise origins, scholars think it is likely that ‘smithereens’ developed from the Irish Gaelic word ‘smidiriin,’ which means ‘little bits.’ That Irish word is believed to come from an even older term that means ‘fragment.’

See Details

Older Entries