"nimble-wimble" was: Re: to roger

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Sun Mar 18 05:22:35 UTC 2007

>     Is Jonathan Green's citation below, which includes "nimble-wimble",
> the earliest attestation of a word reduplicated by a "w"? Cf. in this
> regard "palsy-walsy," "snookum-wookums," "eentsy-weentsy."


>1653 Urquhart _Gargantua & Pantagruel_ (1927) vol. I bk. I 44: And some
>of the other women would give these names, my Roger, my cockatoo, my
>nimble-wimble, bush-beater, claw-buttock, evesdropper, pick-lock,
>pioneer, bully-ruffin, smell-smock, trouble-gusset, my lusty live sausage.

I'm surely ignorant of these literary matters; maybe somebody can fill in
the holes or correct me.

Here is what appears to be the corresponding Rabelais passage on-line:

<<L'une la nommait ma petite dille, l'aultre ma pine, l'aultre ma branche
de coural, l'aultre mon bondon, mon bouchon, mon vibrequin, mon possouer,
ma teriere, ma pendilloche, mon rude esbat roidde et bas, mon dressouoir,
ma petite andoille vermeille, ma petite couille bredouille.>>

Here is an Urquhart translation on-line:

<<One of them would call it her little dille, her staff of love, her
quillety, her faucetin, her dandilolly.  Another, her peen, her jolly kyle,
her bableret, her membretoon, her quickset imp:  another again, her branch
of coral, her female adamant, her placket-racket, her Cyprian sceptre, her
jewel for ladies.  And some of the other women would give it these
names,--my bunguetee, my stopple too, my bush-rusher, my gallant wimble, my
pretty borer, my coney-burrow-ferret, my little piercer, my augretine, my
dangling hangers, down right to it, stiff and stout, in and to, my pusher,
dresser, pouting stick, my honey pipe, my pretty pillicock, linky pinky,
futilletie, my lusty andouille, and crimson chitterling, my little couille
bredouille, my pretty rogue, and so forth.>>

Obviously there are more items here: I think Urquhart embellished a little
bit in his translation, or else there was an alternative original.

My acquaintance with French is minimal (limited to "coup de foie gras" and
the like), so I can't identify all the words. E.g., I speculate maybe
"teriere" = modern "tarie`re" = "auger", but OTOH maybe it's = "[chien]
terrier" and loosely equivalent to Urquhart's burrowing ferret.

English "wimble" of course means "auger" or "gimlet" or so, apparently from
Middle Dutch "wimmel". The French "vibrequin" (presumably = modern
"vilebrequin") has/had similar sense and is apparently derived from a
diminutive form of the same Dutch word, "wimmelkijn" or so (English
"gimlet" seems to be related to this too!), so I suppose "wimble" here is
equated to "vibrequin", with the "nimble" added by a translator.

So maybe the "wimble" is essential and the "nimble" is the frivolous
reduplicative part?

-- Doug Wilson

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