Pumpernickel (1766)

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Mon Apr 29 23:36:31 UTC 2002

At 6:21 PM -0400 4/29/02, Benjamin Fortson wrote:
>Happy to oblige, Larry; here's a translated version of their entry:
>"(since 17th century) First used of 'ration-bread', then narrowed to refer
>to northern Westphalian whole-grain rye bread (as a mocking term from
>elsewhere; the native term is Schwarzbrot ['black bread', BF] or grobes
>Brot ['coarse bread'; when I lived in Westphalia all I heard was the
>former term, BF]). As a term of abuse, the word is even older (as a term
>for a coarse boor?); the extension of meaning to the bread similar to that of
>Armer Ritter [lit. 'poor knight', a fritter, BF], etc. Nickel is a
>shortening of Nikolaus; Pumper probably a regional word for 'a fart'."
>Various references follow, which I'll send along if desired.
Well, thanks.  It's puzzling; I suppose, then, that you don't buy the
"farting goblin" thesis your fellow ADH4 etymologists swear by?  The
OED is even more non-committal, the "uncertainty" implicitly
extending to the farting as well as the farter:

[G., also pompernickel (in use 1663); also (earlier) a lout, a booby.
Origin uncertain.]


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