[Ads-l] min min light

Stephen Goranson goranson at DUKE.EDU
Fri Sep 17 12:28:23 UTC 2021

OED's word of the day
Min-Min, n. Australian

 " A mysterious, phosphorescent light observed sporadically in the Australian outback. Also Min-Min light....

Etymology: Origin uncertain; perhaps < an Australian Aboriginal language, although R. M. W. Dixon et al. Austral. Aboriginal Words in Eng. (1990) 195 note: ‘This is said to be from a language in the Cloncurry area, but it does not appear in any of the materials for languages of the region, nor was it recognized by the last speakers of these languages.’
Another theory found in some non-linguistic sources is that the word derives < Min-Min, the name of a former hotel in Boulia, north-western Queensland, Australia, where the light was first seen, but this has not been substantiated: compare Austral. Encycl. (1965) VI. 91."
Uses from 1950.
This is news to me. Here's my question: why mention the hotel when--from a quick search at least--nearby Min Min Creek is earlier attested (1887, GB) than Min Min Hotel?


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

More information about the Ads-l mailing list