bad hair day

Greg Pulliam pulliam at IIT.EDU
Mon Jan 31 06:50:29 UTC 2000

Perhaps, but my wife parsed it the same way that I did--[bad [hair
day]]--so I'm doubtful about the claim that women would parse it the
other way.

I think this is clearly a humor-driven compound, i.e., if one parsing
is really funny, and the other isn't, the funny one is probably
responsible for the spreading of the term.

To that end, I'm still curious as to whether anyone on this list
finds [[bad hair] day] as funny as or funnier than [bad [hair day]].


>Anne Lambert wrote:
>What is important here is not the bad but the hair.  Women's hair
>doesn't always "work out" when we comb or brush it in the morning.  Then
>you have a bad hair day--3 words with stress on hair--no hyphen.  This
>may lead to the whole day's being felt as bad.  That's why I have a
>hairstyle that requires no  care.
>Greg Pulliam wrote:
>>  I don't think this point has been previously made WRT _bad hair day_,
>>  but I missed a few of the early posts on this topic.  So if this
>>  sounds familiar as you read it, just hit the delete key and move on,
>>  and accept my apologies in advance.
>>  When I first heard this term, I immediately folk-parsed it as "bad
>>  hair-day," because to me the idea that a person could have a
>>  hair-day, like they have a work-day or a holiday or a play-day was
>>  hilarious.  The suggestion that "Bill is having a bad hair-day"
>>  indicated to me that Bill was a silly and shallow person, who looked
>>  at his life as a series of hair-days, some good, some bad, and that
>>  all other aspects of his days were somehow subordinate to the quality
>>  of his hair-day.
>>  Parsing this as _bad-hair day_ isn't nearly so wickedly funny, is it?
>>  Or is this just me?
>>  -
>>  Greg

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