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Dr. Goodword
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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.

"To preserve liberty, it is essential that the whole body of the people always possess arms, and be taught alike, especially when young, how to use them."
-- Attributed to Richard Henry Lee

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