Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Tue Jun 3 17:19:07 UTC 2008

I am reading Robert B. Parker's western novel _Appaloosa_ (2005).  Near the beginning the first-person narrator explains his experience in the cavalry: "I liked the space, and how far you could see . . . . But most of the time, I said, it was sort of crampsome" (p. 13).

The word "crampsome" interested me. It is absent from the OED. Google yields a mere 8 hits (two of them quotations from Parker's novel), together with 7 (overlapping) hits in Google Books.

Kipling used the word in his story "New Brooms," first published in 1888 and collected in _Abaft the Funnel_ (1909): ". . . he was aware of a crampsome feeling at the pit of his stomach" (p. 92). Kipling also used the word in a letter dated 26 Jan. 1888, in _Letters_, ed. Thomas Piney, 6 vols. (Macmillan, 1990-2004): ". . .  my hand is getting shaky and crampsome" (1:152). I'm sure the gatherers of entries for the OED combed Kipling.  They probably regarded "crampsome" as just a nonce word (or a ntwice word). They were almost right.


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