Word of the Day: Uncircumsize

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sat Sep 10 00:51:50 UTC 2011

The verb, which has been around for awhile, as "uncircumcise" (this is one time when "size" doesn't matter), especially in trendy California, but also (as "uncircumcise") in the U.K. and probably elsewhere, does not appear in the OED (or other non-urban dictionaries I consulted).  The apparently corresponding nominal does, but "uncircumcision" tends to refer not to the outcome of this surgical procedure graphically illustrated chez wiki but rather to the lack of surgery in the first place.  Thus, Romans 2.25-27 in the KJV reads as follows (I don't know whether or how the superscripts will copy and paste):
 25For circumcision verily profiteth, if thou keep the law: but if thou be a breaker of the law, thy circumcision is made uncircumcision.

 26Therefore if the uncircumcision keep the righteousness of the law, shall not his uncircumcision be counted for circumcision?

 27And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfil the law, judge thee, who by the letter and circumcision dost transgress the law? 

The OED cites Calvin as stating (in translation):

Now there is no respect of Greke or Jewe, circumcision or vncircumcision. (1561)

--where again uncircumcision refers not to a double-action but to intaction.  But the next cite from Milton (1644) does seem to allude to a reversal, albeit a metaphorical one, if I read it correctly:

How vain then‥to exact a circumcision of the Flesh from an infant‥and to dispence an uncircumcision in the soul of a grown man.


On Sep 9, 2011, at 7:42 PM, Arnold Zwicky wrote:

> On Sep 9, 2011, at 4:35 PM, victor steinbok wrote:
>> From Jeffrey Goldberg's interview with Mel Gibson:
>> http://goo.gl/EpLwT
>> http://goo.gl/6h5Gc
>>> Jeffrey Goldberg: There are some unpleasant aspects to this story, you
>>> know. Some crazy stuff went on. Some of the people were so in love with
>>> Greek culture that they would _uncircumcise_themselves_... It was a war
>>> about circumcision in some ways.... I don't know how you dramatize that.
>> The word is morphologically transparent. But how do you DO that??
> of course there's a Wikipedia entry:
> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foreskin_restoration
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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