[Ads-l] _onry_ [< ornery < ordinary] "of man or beast: mean, nasty, angry, cruel, crude, unpleasant, dangerous, " etc..

Herb Stahlke hfwstahlke at GMAIL.COM
Mon Aug 15 22:53:07 UTC 2016

In Central Indiana, I have heard "ornry" used to mean "endearingly
uncooperative."  Being ornry is generally a positive quality.


On Mon, Aug 15, 2016 at 4:00 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:

> Although _onry_ is, very likely, derived, ultimately, from _ordinary_
> through _ornery_, not to recognize it as a lexical item independent of them
> is like refusing to recognize _bust_ as a different lexical item from
> _burst_ or refusing to recognize _cum_ as a different lexical item from
> _come_ or refusing to recognize _ornery_ as a different lexical item from
> _ordinary_.
> Indeed, refusing to admit the distinction is straight-up onry.
> I've tried to persuade myself that _onry_ "aahnrih"  and "ornery" are the
> same word since I first heard "ornery" used by George Francis "Gabby" Hayes
> in the Western movies of the horse-opera era. All that would have been
> necessary to persuade me that such was the case would have been the use of
> _onry_ by any random white speaker or the use of _ornery_ by some random
> black speaker.
> That has never happened.
> I offer perhaps weak evidence that, among black speakers, the connection
> between _onry_ and _ornery_ had been lost by the turn of the last century.
> As I was Googling to see whether _onry_ - or, perhaps, _awnry_, since
> "onry" could rhyme with "only" - I came across the following:
> The Black Cat Club: Negro Humor & Folk-lore - Page 18-19
>  https://books.google.com/books?id=VQ9AAAAAYAAJ
> James David Corrothers - 1902 - ‎Read - ‎More editions
> The club has no honorary members, but, by virtue of its constitution, it is
> allowed to have 999. Contrary to general usage, however, these members will
> not be chosen because of their brilliance or the honor that they are
> expected to reflect upon the club; nor will they be called honorary members
> at all. They will be denominated 'onry members,' and will be chosen because
> they are considered too 'onry' to belong to the club---"
> in which _onry_ is punned with _honorary_ and not with _ornery_ or
> _ordinary_. But the fact that the author didn't do that is not evidence
> that he couldn't have done that or wouldn't have done that - because the
> semantic connection had been lost - if he had felt like it.
> --
> -Wilson
> -----
> All say, "How hard it is that we have to die!"---a strange complaint to
> come from the mouths of people who have had to live.
> -Mark Twain
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list