Discuss word origins and meanings.
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Post by Debz » Fri May 19, 2006 11:50 pm

Hey! I'm still studying about the Ozark dialect. (by the way, I got the book by Vance Randolph. Thanks.)
A wampus-cat is a type of wild cat.
Now, the meaning of the "word" cattywampus, is backward, or haphazard.
Example:"The shed was put together sort of cattywampus-like."

Could the "word" cattywampus be a clever little word that someone made up by saying wampus-cat backward?

I know this has no bearing on reality, but I still think it's interesting.

Here's another "word" I don't feel comfortabe writing that is quite common. "Back-***ward" is obviously, ***-backward, spoken backward. Ahem... Donkey.

No redundancy intended. ;>)

I know this probably can't be found in any references, just wanting everyone's opinion. Such a witty, knowledgeable group, you know.


Post by gdwdwrkr » Sat May 20, 2006 12:04 am

Then there's bass ackwards


Post by Erik_Kowal » Sat May 20, 2006 5:36 am

Signature: -- Looking up a word? Try OneLook's metadictionary (--> definitions) and reverse dictionary (--> terms based on your definitions)8-- Contribute favourite diary entries, quotations and more here8 -- Find new postings easily with Active Topics8-- Want to research a word? Get essential tips from experienced researcher Ken Greenwald


Post by gdwdwrkr » Sat May 20, 2006 2:58 pm

wampus-cat :An imaginary critter loggers attribute night sounds to.

I'm betting these critters make cat roads.
They intersect at kitty-corners, catty-cornered to each other.


Post by Ken Greenwald » Sun May 21, 2006 6:00 am

Deborah, On the point:
<“Could the "word" cattywampus be a clever little word that someone made up by saying wampus-cat backward?”>
Most sources seem to think (‘perhaps/probably’) that WAMPUS (1912) U.S. slang for a strange, monstrous, objectionable, bad-tempered person or thing comes from a shortening of CATAWAMPUS (1843)/CATTYWAMPUS (1938)/CATERWAMPUS, (chiefly an expression of South and South Midland U.S.) which in U.S. folklore is an imaginary fierce wild animal, hobgoblin, bogy; also used figuratively (e.g. a virago). If that is the case, then the expression WAMPUS CAT (1941), the mythical folk creature of the mountains, came into use long after CATAWAMPUS, ergo the latter could not have been formed from saying it backwards. It has been suggested that the first part of CATAWAMPUS derives from CATAMOUNT, which is short for CATAMOUNTAIN/CAT-A-MOUNTAIN/CAT-O’-MOUNTAIN, any of various wild animals of the cat family. However, I haven’t seen a reasonable explanation for the original meaning of the second part, WAMPUS.

Other meanings. spellings, and the derivation of CATAWAMPUS are well-covered in the above links.
<1843 “[He] is a sort of CATAWAMPUS, (spiteful) and maybe underhand wouldn’t stick to do a mischief if he thought you made a laugh on him.”—‘New Purchase’ (1916) by Hall, page 225

<1866 “It is a thing that plots, and plans, and schemes for a few weeks, and then suddenly pokes its head out like a CATAWAMPUS and says Booh!”—‘Bill Arp’ by Smith, page 54>

<1912 “WAMPUS, . . . any offensive or loathsome person or thing. Sometimes applied to a negro without regard to his personal qualities.”—‘Dialect Notes,’ III, page 592>

<1938 “‘I'll bet we kin ketch us a CATTYWAMPUS in one o' them ponds.’ ‘We kin sure pleasure ourselves tryin'.’”—‘The Yearling’ by M. K. Rawlings, x. page 89>

<1941 “Scoffers are prone to place the snow worm in the category of the fabulous WAMPUS CAT, the whiffenpoof and the side hill gouger.”—‘Chicago Daily Tribune,’ 6 February, page 12>

<circa 1960 “CATAWAMPUS CAT . . . One of the folk animals, or WAMPUS CAT.”—‘Wilson College’>

<1965 “She told him that the night mountains were walked by WAMPUS CATS with great burning eyes and which left no track even in snow, although you could hear them screaming plain enough of summer evenings.”—‘The Orchard Keeper’ by Cormac McCarthy>
(Dictionary of American Regional English, Merriam-Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary)

Ken G – May 20, 2006


Post by Wizard of Oz » Mon May 22, 2006 1:46 am

Debz said:

Here's another "word" I don't feel comfortabe writing that is quite common. "Back-***ward" is obviously, ***-backward, spoken backward. Ahem... Donkey.
.. now I would love to be able to say that I am aware of what this means but sorry Debz I haven't a clue what you are talking about .. help anybody??

WoZ of Aus 22/05/06
Signature: "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."


Post by kagriffy » Mon May 22, 2006 2:33 am

Surely, even Ozzies know a three-letter word for "donkey," WoZ. Just substitute that for the *** and you'll get the picture!
K. Allen Griffy
Springfield, Illinois (USA)

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