Random notes on "The Bizarre notes and queries" 1890 - Google Books

Douglas G. Wilson douglas at NB.NET
Thu Feb 11 01:17:12 UTC 2010

Victor Steinbok wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Victor Steinbok <aardvark66 at GMAIL.COM>
> Subject:      Random notes on "The Bizarre notes and queries" 1890 - Google
>               Books
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> Three random observations on a fairly non-distinguished publication...
> 1. Got the mitten; give hern
> I discovered an odd (to me) expression (from 1890) on p. 4 at
> http://bit.ly/dBWXGa
> The Bizarre Notes and Queries: A Monthly Magazine of History, Folk-lore,
> Mathematics, Mysticism, Art, Science, Etc., Volume VII, Manchester, N.
> H., 1890
>> "Got the mitten" Where did this saying originate? (N. and Q., F. J. P.
>> Vol. VI, p. 348)
>> This is an American phrase used when a young man is discarded by a
>> lady to whom he has been paying his addresses. Sam Slick, in "Human
>> Nature," p. 90, says, "there is a young lady I have set my heart on ;
>> though whether she is a-goin' to give hern, or /give the miten/, I
>> ain't satisfied." This seems to be the only remaining use of the Old
>> English werd [sic] /mittent/ (Latin, /mittins/, to send) which Johnson
>> defines as "sending forth, emitting." /Mittent/ itself is obsolete,
>> but it survives inthe word "intermittent".
>>             Mrs. L. T. George
> It is interesting that Mrs. George failed to notice the connection with
> the very word Johnson uses for definition here--emitting. MW-OL has it
> going back to 1598, others (online) to 1623 (all without citations), and
> all have its origins in /mittere/. The given etymology may also be
> slightly off--WRD1913 gives /mittens/ as p.pr. of /mittere/.

This "mitten" is in DARE, said to originate probably as a jocular
variant of "mittimus" (itself in MW3 etc.) = "dismissal".

-- Doug Wilson

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list