[Ads-l] "Gizmo" 1938

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM
Sun Dec 20 16:29:25 EST 2020


Jerry, the author goes by the moniker "subpleiades," and he or she posted
the suggestion seven years ago:

https://www.reddit.com/r/linguistics/comments/1fzty2/where_does_the_word_gizmo_come_from/

They added an alternative: "Spanish *gisma*, obsolete or dialectal variant
of *chisme*: trifle, jigger; ultimately from Latin *cimex*: a bug."

This might also be plausible - if we knew just how real, obsolete, and
dialectal "gisma" was. Somebody does.

JL

On Sun, Dec 20, 2020 at 3:41 PM Cohen, Gerald Leonard <gcohen at mst.edu>
wrote:

> Jon,
>
>
> Very interesting.  Two questions now:
>
>   1.  Who specifically put forth this  Maltese suggestion? He/she deserves
> credit.
>   2.  In the Maltese Arabic alphabet (which I don't pretend to be expert
> in),
>
> the letter x  is pronounced like the "sh" in English "sheep."  So why isn't
> "gizmo" pronounced "shizmo"?
> (Btw, in the Maltese Arabic alphabet, the letter "j" is pronounced like
> English "y" in "yes".)
>
> GC
>
> ________________________________
> From: American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU> on behalf of
> Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> Sent: Saturday, December 19, 2020 4:06 PM
> To: ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU
> Subject: Re: "Gizmo" 1938
>
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header
> -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Jonathan Lighter <wuxxmupp2000 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Re: "Gizmo" 1938
>
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>
> Finally an etymology that makes some sense (from Reddit):
>
> Maltese *x'jismu*  'what's his name?'
>
> As Stephen's 1938 ex. shows (and HDAS confirms) the word in early
> (recorded) naval use also referred to an unknown or odd person.
>
> Valetta, Malta, seems to have been a frequent port of call for U.S. naval
> as well as merchant ships since the 19th century - though there's no reason
> to believe the English word is that old.
>
> JL
>
> On Wed, Apr 19, 2017 at 7:17 AM Stephen Goranson <goranson at duke.edu>
> wrote:
>
> > Leatherneck, October 1938 p.28 col.2 (via ProQuest)
> >
> > "DOG" COMPANY DOPE
> >
> > by "Gizmo"
> >
> >
> >
> > Stephen Goranson
> >
> > http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/
> >
> >
> >
> >
> > Previously reported on ads-l (May 4, 2015), from 1939:
> >
> > Leatherneck, May, 1939, page 35 col. 2, Motor Transport, by Looey
> > [[brackets added]], from image via ProQuest:
> >
> >
> > "Butch Nyden has returned to us [[to Quantico, Va.]] from Shanghai, where
> > he found out that Gin Rickey's aint those two wheel gismos you ride in
> out
> > there."
> >
> >
> > Stephen Goranson
> >
> > http://people.duke.edu/~goranson/<http://people.duke.edu/%7Egoranson/>
> >
> > ------------------------------------------------------------
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> >
>
>
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