Feature Word: Better Half

Definition:

One’s spouse.

Description:

Sir Philip Sidney (1590).
The Countesse of Pembrokes Arcadia. ‘My deare, my deare, my better half, I find that I must now leave thee.’

Source:

Sir Philip sidney (1590)

Doozy (Doozie)

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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.”

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Gussied Up

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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.

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Wowser

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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.

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Weird

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Definition:

of strange or extraordinary character

Description:

You may know today’s word as a generalized term for anything unusual, but ‘weird’ also has older meanings that are more specific. ‘Weird’ derives from the Old English noun ‘wyrd,’ essentially meaning ‘fate.’

By the late 8th century, the plural ‘wyrde’ had begun to appear in texts as a gloss for ‘Parcae,’ the Latin name for the Fates — three goddesses who spun, measured, and cut the thread of life. In the 15th and 16th centuries, Scots authors employed ‘werd’ or ‘weird’ in the phrase ‘weird sisters’ to refer to the Fates.

William Shakespeare adopted this usage in Macbeth, in which the ‘weird sisters’ are depicted as three witches. Subsequent adjectival use of ‘weird’ grew out of a reinterpretation of the ‘weird’ in Shakespeare.

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Thug

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Definition:

Gangster, hoodlum

Description:

The word originated from India describing a band of ruthless bandits in the hills of India. These mythical bandits wore yellow (or orange) bandana which they used to strangle unsuspecting travelers. The ‘hugghi’ only kill their victims by this way.
During British occupation, the British soldiers decided to erradicate the ‘thugghi’. They found thousands of bodies burried by them. From that point on, the word ‘thug’ was used to describe someone who is ruthless.

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