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Post by Archived Topic » Sun Jun 20, 2004 1:56 am

Where does this expression come from?
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Post by Archived Reply » Sun Jun 20, 2004 2:10 am

1)noun: light conversation; casual talk; gossip

2) verb intransitive: to indulge in chitchat, gossip [1700-10; gradational compound based on CHAT] (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)

For a more complete discussion and examples of different types of compound gradational nouns seeflim-flam.

CHITCHAT is an example of the first type discussed in that posting and it falls into a category of words called compound gradational nouns which are produced by a process which some have dubbed ‘reduplication.’ These compound gradational nouns fall into several categories:

1) start with the same letter, similar spelling, but switch vowel in second word (gewgaw, dribs and drabs, tit for tat, mishmash, ticktock, fiddle-faddle, dilly dally, wishy-washy, ding-dong, tip-top, pishposh, chitchat, fiddle-faddle, zigzag, flipflop, hip-hop, singsong, dingdong (onomatopoea for sound of bell; or penis), wigwag, rickrack (zigzag trim on clothing, capitalized is name of cigarette rolling paper), riprap (crude wall of stones), ticktack (repetitive sound), shilly-shally (prevaricate), knick-knack, splish-splash, bric-a-brac, ship-shape, spic and span, ying-yang (as in ‘up the wazoo’); and the less pure seesaw, heehaw, teetor-totter, jimjams

Ken G - June 22, 2002
Reply from Ken Greenwald (Fort Collins, CO - U.S.A.)
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