more seat-of-the-pants etymology for our delectation

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Nov 16 04:58:49 UTC 2008

Take that, you "pros"!  Who needs you, "professoriate"?  Far be it
from the Times to assign a book on etymology and lexicon to someone
who actually knows something about either--that would be knuckling
under to the pros and/or the professoriate.  (Who might point out,
inter alia, that "nausea", whose true source is approvingly cited
here--"If you a cave person earnestly trying to communicate how you
felt digestively, you might without benefit of any verbal tradition
come up with something close to 'nausea'"--neither author (humorist
Roy Blount Jr.) nor reviewer (Jack Shafer of Slate) evidently having
bothered to open a dictionary, where they might have noticed that
"nausea" derives from the Greek word for is 'ship' (via the vector of
seasickness) and is cognate with "nautical", "navy", "navigate",
"nautilus", "noise", etc.  Or maybe all those words go back to how
cave persons felt about the sea and other stuff; us professoriate
types don't have the subtle intuitions of the self-diagnosed


The American Dialect Society -

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