"mountain boomer"

Jesse Sheidlower jester at PANIX.COM
Thu Apr 26 20:31:03 UTC 2001

On Thu, Apr 26, 2001 at 03:40:56PM -0400, jdespres at MERRIAM-WEBSTER.COM wrote:

> I should say that my employer treats these words in pretty much
> the same way that the OED and DARE do -- it groups them all
> under the same headword, which implies a common origin -- viz.,
> "mountain" plus "boomer" in the primary sense "one that booms."
> That is the default explanation, the one that, until something better
> comes along, makes the most obvious sense.  I interpreted
> Jesse's question as inviting a questioning (or confirmation) of this
> default assumption, which was what prompted my remarks.
> Without further investigation of the matter, though, I certainly don't
> think they outweigh any other explanations on the probability scale.

The OED will be treating these terms (the three different animal
senses and the 'hillbilly' sense) under the same headword, broad sense
'mountain' + 'one that booms', exactly as Joanne suggests. My question
was not questioning this arrangement, which, barring some unexpected
evidence, seems hard to refute.  Rather I was asking if there was
any idea about the 'hillbilly' sense in particular--whether it can
be said to have derived from the 'squirrel' sense (e.g. 1.a. squirrel
b. hillbilly 2. lizard 3. whatever the other thing was), suggested
by the chronological arrangement ('hillbilly' is only slightly later
than 'squirrel') and the later explanations relating them, or if
the 'hillbilly' sense should be regarded as one on an equal footing
as the animal senses (1. 2. 3. 4., chronologically), or if the
various animal senses should be regarded as one unit and the
'hillbilly' as another (I. animals 1. 2. 3. II. people 4.). Or
perhaps something else.

This is not very likely to clarify things, I see upon reading over
that morass up there.

Jesse Sheidlower

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