peeve and relations

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri May 9 15:13:51 UTC 2014

At 5/8/2014 08:38 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>I wonder, though, how often it *is* a verb.  I
>suspect it shows up a lot more as an adjective,
>as below ("I'm already peeved about
>this").  Such occurrences naturally take "very"
>as a modifier and not readily a "by"-agent
>phrased ("The Ukrainians were peeved by
>Putin").  To me, verbal "peeve" (as in "That
>really peeves me"), while indeed attested from
>1901, sounds more a like a back-formation from
>"peeved" (adj.) or "peevish".  (Historically, I
>guess it really was a back-formation from "peevish".)

So the OED3 claims.

peevish, adj., †1. Perverse, refractory;
headstrong, obstinate; capricious, skittish; (also) coy. Obs.
           from c1400  ( ?a1387) Langland Piers Plowman
      5. Irritable, querulous; childishly
fretful; characterized by or exhibiting petty bad temper.
           from c1530
           "In early quots. often referred to as
the result of fasting or performing a religious
observance of similar rigour."  Perhaps explains Cotton Mather?

peeve v.  1901  Etymology:  Back-formation < peevish adj.  orig. U.S.

peeved adj.  1908  Etymology:  < peeve v. + -ed suffix1.  orig. U.S.

peeve n.  1909  orig. U.S.


>For example, this cite under "peeved"--
>1929   A. Conan Doyle Maracot Deep 264   What is
>up, Jack? You seem peeved this morning.
>--sounds entirely natural, whereas I'd be
>surprised to find Conan Doyle describing someone
>or something as having peeved poor Jack.

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