Air Force Language (1962); Medical Slang (1994)

Jonathon Green slang at BLUEYONDER.CO.UK
Thu Jul 26 08:08:11 UTC 2001

> However, I wonder: why did Gomer Pyle receive the name Gomer in the first
> place? Gomer is a biblical name (e.g., Genesis 10:2) and it is also an
> English and/or Welsh family name, and it was used as a given name before
> Gomer Pyle. Perhaps it was regarded as a name suitable for a bumpkin long
> before the TV character appeared, and perhaps this is why it was chosen
> Mr. Pyle.

I have yet to find a cit. for 'gomer' (as 'rustic simpleton') prior to 1960s
(and as noted in RHDAS it seems to start life as a milit. coinage) but as
well as acknowledging Gomer Pyle, I note in CDS the UK dialect _gaum_, which
is defined in the Eng. Dial. Dict. (1907, drawing on late 18C/19C research)
as 'a lout, a gaping, idle fellow.' EDD's cits. for the n. all come from
Ireland and the term presumably travelled the Atlantic..

Other forms, found throughout the UK, include the verb _gaum_, 'to stare
idly or vacantly [...] to gape, to be stupid, awkward', plus its derivatives
_gawming_, 'stupid, foolish, thoughtless; awkward, lubberly, lanky',
_gawman_, _gawmas_, _gomas_,  'a staring , vacant person'.

Bernard Shore's _Slanguage_ (a dict. of Irish slang) offers
'gom/gawm/goamey/gam' all meaning lout, simpleton and/or fool, which he
derives from the synonymous Irish _gamal_. He also has _gomeral/gomeril_,
also a fool, from the same root. He does have _gomer_ but it means 'a
measure of drink'.

Jonathon Green

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