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Posted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 12:36 pm
by Mel
Thanks to Chris sending me off to the Etymology Quiz I came across the word puny. Its from the French for "Born Late". I aready knew biscuit was from the French "Twice cooked". I wonder how many other words in English are compounds of two French words?

There are probably lots. I really just wanted to make a contribution to show that I am back.


Posted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 9:52 pm
by chriscane
Hi Mel,

I like your signature line.

Reminds me of my Dad who once asked "What if the Hokey Pokey is what it's all about?"


Posted: Mon Jan 24, 2005 11:41 pm
by Ken Greenwald
Mel, Welcome back. Don’t know much French, so can’t help you there, but very glad to see your return. It’s been so long I thought that perhaps you were no longer with us, or with anybody – if you know what I mean.

Well, things have improved a whole bunch since you left and we no longer have to deal with the Ygors and Als [[WW’s old nemeses, for those that don’t go back that far]] of the world, which makes life around here much more pleasant. And the technical improvements, thanks to the wizardry of Phil White and the support of some of our wizened wizards, are just great - and with your company things will be even more pleasant.

Ken - January 24, 2005


Posted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 9:03 pm
by Wizard of Oz
Ken is that you ??? .. I mean REALLY you .. must be the weather ..

WoZ of Aus 26/01/05


Posted: Tue Jan 25, 2005 10:09 pm
by Ken Greenwald
Wiz, It’s just my usual good old cheerful self, and Mel does ask interesting questions and makes interesting comments, unlike some others I know. ------- Only kidding. (&lt)

Ken - January 25, 2005


Posted: Wed Jan 26, 2005 10:00 pm
by Wizard of Oz
.. *wink* .. just joshin ya Ken .. I KNOW you have a mushy centre ..



Posted: Sat Jan 29, 2005 12:53 am
by Mel
Thanks Ken, for those kind words.

Hello everybody. There are certainly many changes for the better. To tell the truth I had become pretty fed up with things as they were.


Posted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 12:29 am
by Tex
continuing on about puny.....I used the phrase last night, in describing my physical condition, to say I was "feeling puny" - meaning, I feel sick with a cold, physically tired and ill. The person I was speaking to had never heard puny uesd in that context - only in the context of size or stature. Perhaps this is another Southern saying? - dunno. Has anyone heard it used in this context or know the origin of this particular use of the word puny? Certainly has nothing directly to do with the phrase "born late."

Mucho thanks, as always,


Posted: Tue Aug 16, 2005 8:09 am
by Bobinwales
It's not used in that context around this neck of the woods Tex.


Posted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 12:25 am
by Ken Greenwald
Tex, PUNY, according to the dictionaries, does include other meanings beside size and stature. And these meanings do include feeling “sick, physically tired, and ill,” which is listed as U.S. dialect in the Oxford English Dictionary:

PUNY: 4c) In bad condition or health; physically weak; ailing. ‘U.S. dialect.’

The Facts on File Dictionary of American Regionalism lists PUNY as being a regionalism of the ‘Mountain Range’ (from Appalachia to the Ozarks).

[[Appalachia: A region in the E United States, in the area of the S Appalachian Mountains, usually including NE Alabama, NW Georgia, NW South Carolina, E Tennessee, W Virginia, E Kentucky, West Virginia, and SW Pennsylvania.]]

[[Ozarks: A group of low mountains in S Missouri, N Arkansas, and NE Oklahoma.]]

PUNY: Sickly, in poor health. <1934 “[She] was feeling right PUNY-like.”—‘Backwoods America.'>

PUNY FEELING: Sick. <“I been PUNY feelin’ the last week.”>
<1838, “I found your dear Aunt Catherine in a very PUNY state, not entirely confined, but obliged to rest herself on the bed more or less every day.”— K. De R. Kennedy in ‘Tarheel [[a native of North Carolina]] Talk’ (1956) by N. E. Eliason, page 289>

<1904 “Little Minnie begun to fail; she got so PUNY she spit up ever'thing she ate.”—‘Georgians’ by W. N. Harben, xvii, page 163>

<1943 “Don't you go making fun of sickness. Mister Dewey Durgan here has been PUNY the last few days and needs the best advice.”—‘Barefoot Mailman’ by T. Pratt, i. page 7>

<1947 “PUNY, in poor health, thin, emaciated.”—‘Publications of the American Dialect Society’ [South West Ohio]], VIII. page 33/1 [South West Ohio]].

<1979-80 Verbatim Winter 14/1 “
PUNY was ‘confined to bed’, poorly meant ‘chronically ill’, and ‘bad sick’ meant it was time to call the undertaker.”—‘Verbatim,’ Winter, page 14/1>
Ken G – August 16, 2005


Posted: Wed Aug 17, 2005 1:03 am
by Erik_Kowal
Which raises the question of whether Tex orginally hails from somewhere in Appalachia or the Ozarks rather than from Texas, or has a close connection with someone who does.


Posted: Wed Aug 24, 2005 2:47 pm
by Tex
Ken, I've never asked a question to which you didn't find a really detailed and accurate answer. Thanks!

Now, as for Erik's "color commentary" spec-ye-la-tion, why, it's jes possible that I done come from the right near the Ozarks, yesiree. My grandpappy and his pappy 'fore him wuz from Texarkana, matter a fact. Some wuz born on the Texas side, and some wuz born on the Arkansas side of that there city. Yer a purty good guesser, Mr. Kowal.

And, Erik, my last name is an English surname if that gives ya any comfort or more heartburn over there across the pond and, uh, getting back to the original question here about compounds of french words, I've got plenty of french tossed in from Louisiana relatives, too - Jean Lafitte (a/k/a Gentleman Pirate of New Orleans) is back in the family line somewhere. So, I have a decent amount of Southern colloquialisms and vernacular covered. ;)

Any time you guys get a question about a Southern idiom on here, feel free to bounce to me. I can't provide Ken's detail on the origin of the word or phrase, but I can tell you how it's commonly used.

Her Royal Texness