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

David Champion dgc.ads at BIKESHED.US
Tue Aug 16 18:25:47 UTC 2016

Anecdotally: my relatives in Albama and Geahgia considered ohnriness
the same way.  I wouldn't go as far as saying it was a positive, but
it certainly could be an endearing trait in a can-tankerous ol son of
a gun.  Or less lovable in a mule.  But whether they meant lovably
stubborn or confoundingly intransigent, the pronunciation was the same
and I sensed the orthography would have been too.

I've never seen this written as _onry_, or any other way than _ornery_.
I don't suppose I know for certain how my kinfolks spelled it, but
they understood that _ornery_ was the word they were using and I
suspect would write it that way.  When asked to explain the term, they
enunciated more clearly: "ohnery."

* On 15 Aug 2016, Herb Stahlke wrote: 
> In Central Indiana, I have heard "ornry" used to mean "endearingly
> uncooperative."  Being ornry is generally a positive quality.
> Herb
> 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

David Champion • dgc at bikeshed.us

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

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