TV Words

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU
Wed Dec 6 18:45:55 UTC 2006

On 12/6/06, Ed Keer <edkeer at> wrote:
> They say the 'ma' infix in 'saxamaphone' is from Homer on the
> Simpsons. However, it also appears in the Dr. Seuss book The Lorax
> in 'whispermaphone'--the thing that the Onceler uses to tell you the
> story of the Lorax from his attic. I don't know if the Simpsons writers
> took it specifically from there or not. But it's there.

According to the Langmaker page on the "-ma-" infix, "The word
Xylomaphone appears in the 1970 animated film "Horton Hears a Who",
directed by Chuck Jones, based on the Dr. Seuss book of the same
name." <>

The Lorax was from 1971, so Seuss might have been on a "-ma-" kick at the time.

--Ben Zimmer

The American Dialect Society -

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