assanine--a new eggcorn?

Herb Stahlke hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM
Tue Apr 8 19:07:16 UTC 2008

_asinus_ is a doubtful etymological source for "ass," unless it was a late
Gmc borrowing.  "Assinine/assanine" is rather like "awkword," which is in
the database, where apparent sense is made by turning part of the word into
a word that seems, at least by folk etymology, to make sense.   A further
problem with the _asinus_ etymology is that for most modern American English
speakers "ass" has nothing to do with "donkey," except, perhaps, in
"jackass," and even then it's a stretch.


On Tue, Apr 8, 2008 at 11:07 AM, Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at>

> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: assanine--a new eggcorn?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> At 10:47 AM -0400 4/8/08, Herb Stahlke wrote:
> >In today's Right Matters on the Washington Post web site a participant
> >writes:
> >
> >That's an assanine statement!
> >
> >Google give 25,100 hits for "assanine", but I haven't seen it in the
> eggcorn
> >database.
> >
> Well, there are also 216,000 hits for "assinine".  The reconstruction
> of "ass-" is essentially etymological (given the origin of "ass" <
> _asinus_, so that there really is an ass in asinine), and the
> assinine > assanine shift seems fairly non-eggcornish, since there's
> no invented morphology involved there as far as I can tell.  Of
> course, speakers might understand the "ass" part as the 'fundament'
> rather than 'donkey' lexical item, but is that really an eggcorn or
> just a (mental) folk etymology?
> L
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society -

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list