pompatus not in OED

James Harbeck jharbeck at SYMPATICO.CA
Mon May 21 01:36:54 UTC 2007

I note that the OED does not have "pompatus". Perhaps the lack of an
actual clear definition might be a reason, though I suspect its
recency (1970) is also a factor, given that "vorpal" and "slithy"
(but not "brillig"), equally factitious words (if at least a bit more
clearly defined and usable), are in. But the OED update has gotten
into the PR's, so I guess inclusion of "pompatus" is not forthcoming
in the near future. For what it's worth, it's not in the official
Scrabble dictionary, either.

Or perhaps I speak too soon in regard to the lack of a definition. Is
anyone aware of a clear agreed-on meaning for "pompatus"? There's an
established etymology -- it was apparently based on Vernon Green's
word "puppetutes" from his song "The Letter" -- but no persuasive
reason to accept the intended meaning of that word ("a secret
paper-doll fantasy figure [thus puppet], who would be my everything
and bear my children"), which wasn't likely known to Steve Miller. I
haven't seen the movie _The Pompatus of Love_, so I don't know
whether the characters in it came to an agreed definition. And Steve
Miller hasn't been forthcoming on the subject, apparently.

James Harbeck.

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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