Etymology gleanings for January 2017

One of the queries I received was about the words dimple, dump, dumps, and a few others sounding like them. This is a most confusing group, the main reason being the words’ late attestation (usually
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One of the queries I received was about the words dimple, dump, dumps, and a few others sounding like them. This is a most confusing group, the main reason being the words’ late attestation (usually Middle and Early Modern English). Where had they been before they came to the surface? Nowhere or just in “oral tradition”? Sometimes an association emerges, but it never goes too far. For instance, not only dumps “depression” has a plural ending. Its synonym doldrums also has it; tantrums often occurs in the plural too. Does this mean that dumps is the plural of dump, with the initial sense “thrown down, being at the bottom”? Such lexicalized plurals are many. Compare color and colors “flag.” Words like digs “living quarters” are also numerous, and animal names like Cuddles and Sniffers (the guinea pigs with which I had the privilege of being acquainted) are known to many of us. Mrs. Skewton’s page (in Dickens’s Dombey and Son) was called Withers. Unlike dumps, the noun dump in the. . .

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News source: Linguistics – OUPblog

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