Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Jun 24 14:59:32 UTC 2003

At 12:01 PM +0100 6/24/03, Imran Ghory wrote:
>On Tue, 24 Jun 2003, Michael Quinion wrote:
>>  A World Wide Wprds subscriber asks "Is there such a word as
>>  'besmitten'?" As usual, he's really asking something more like "Is
>>  'besmitten' the sort of word I can use and not be laughed at?"
>>  But I can't find it in any dictionary I have here. Can anybody help
>>  to track down its antecedents, or would anybody like to comment on
>>  its constituency and validity?
>Searching LION it looks possible that it might be a contraction of "be

Searching for "besmitten with" yields 26 hits on google, none an
obvious reanalysis of "be smitten", including e.g. (from a web site
on the actor Charles Grodin):

  With equal skill, he has since played both romantic leads and
                                                  supporting character
roles ranging from the nerdy to the nasty and
                                                  gave a memorable
performance as the hero's scheming secretary
                                                  in Warren Beatty's
"Heaven Can Wait" (1978). As a jewel-thief
                                                  besmitten with Miss
Piggy in "The Great Muppet Caper" (1981),
                                                  Grodin stole the
film by playing the romance "straight" with
                                                  apparent hilarious sincerity.

Similarly, Faust is described as "besmitten with the beauty of
Helen", and for an intransitive example, here's this one from a
language very much like English:
Bruursema himself, normally a stoic and unaffected by the plight of the
female, is believed to have then slinked off into the night in search of
his besmitten, with whom the keeper has been believed of late to have had
difficulty arranging social interaction.

There are only 26 hits, though, which isn't a huge number, and Eudora
4.3 thinks "besmitten" is a typo.


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