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Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Feb 23, 2006 2:00 pm

• wimp •

Pronunciation: wimp • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: (Humorous slang) 1. [Noun] A weak, indecisive, and ineffectual person; a coward. 2. [Verb] To act cowardly, to 'chicken' (out), to get cold feet.

Notes: Although this Good Word has been around since the 1920s, it gained great popularity in the 1960s and 1970s. It may be used as a verb, as in plan to play the champion but to wimp out at the last minute. The adjective is wimpy, used with comparatives wimpier and wimpiest. There is no evidence of a connection with hamburger connoisseur, J. Wellington Wimpy, of the Popeye cartoon strip. That Wimpy has 24 university degrees and is intellectually too sophisticated.

In Play: Today's Good Word is a less offensive way to call someone a coward by using a humorous, slangy term: "Porter Bella is too much of a wimp to try real Mexican food; invite him over when we are having tunafish sandwiches." The verb is almost always used with the preposition out: "Les Waite promised to swim with the Polar Bears in their pool cut in the river ice but he wimped out."

Word History: The verb whimp has been in English since at least the 15th century alongside whimper. In fact, the latter may be a blend of whimp and simper, used dialectally in the same sense. The best guess is that today's Good Word is a variation of this word. It first began appearing in published form in the 1920s. In England it was a derogatory word for woman while in the US the meaning was similar, given the prejudices against the strength and decisiveness of women at the time.
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Postby KatyBr » Thu Feb 23, 2006 7:02 pm

I always thought this word may have begun as an acronyn. But I shall not even attempt to provide the appropriate words for it. :D

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Postby Stargzer » Fri Feb 24, 2006 12:41 am

KatyBr wrote:I always thought this word may have begun as an acronyn. But I shall not even attempt to provide the appropriate words for it. :D


This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

In astrophysics, WIMP is an acronym for a hypothetical particle ". . . serving as one possible solution to the dark matter problem." The major competitor to WIMPs for this honor are MACHOs.

The late Mrs. Betty Pembroke used to bring home-made brownies to our monthly astronomy meetings; we wouldn't let the speaker leave until he had a piece of "dark matter." She, and her recently deceased husband, Dr. Richard Pembroke, are sorely missed.

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