a whole other question

Wendalyn Nichols wendalyn at NYC.RR.COM
Fri Oct 11 01:11:02 UTC 2002

Lifted wholesale from Jesse's answer to this question on his Word of the
Day website in 1996:

The word "nother," which simply means 'other; different', comes from a
misdivision of "an other" or "another. This type of misdivision has several
parallels in English. The word "newt" was originally "ewte" in Middle
English, but the phrase "an ewte" was changed to "a newt." Similarly,
"nickname" was originally "an ekename" ("eke" being an archaic word for
'also' that still pops up from time to time), but was misdivided as "a
nekename." In the other direction, "apron" was once "napron," but "a
napron" was turned into "an apron."

There is evidence for the misdivided "nother" 'other' going back to around
1300. The Oxford English Dictionary describes it as obsolete except in
dialectal use, but the set phrase "a whole nother" is common in the United
States and has been for at least several decades

At 04:02 PM 10/10/02 -0400, you wrote:
>I don't know if blending is required to explain this, given that
>"nother" has been kicking around in the language since Caxton, or before.
>I don't
>know how long "whole nother" has been around, though.
>On Wed, 9 Oct 2002, Gerald Cohen wrote:
> >     In dealing with odd syntactic constructions I first look to see if
> > syntactic blending might provide the answer. Originally there might
> > have been sentences of the type "That's another thing entirely" +
> > "That's a whole new thing (e.g., to be dealing with)" blending to
> > "That's a whole nother thing" and "That's a whole other thing."
> >
> >     Then by extension to baseball: "Wal it's a whole nother [also:
> > new] ball game, folks," (not just a grand-slam HR but one that ties
> > up the game in the late innings).

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