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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Feb 24, 2006 12:24 am

• cockamamie •

Pronunciation: kahk-ê-mey-mee • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective

Meaning: Absurd, outlandish, implausible, too crazy to be believed.

Notes: This word was popular in the 1930s and 1940s but has fallen into disfavor of late. It lives alone without any derivational kin. That doesn't mean, of course, that we should let it slip out of the language altogether: find a way to use it today.

In Play: This is a good word to toss into conversations with your grandparents, who will remember it with fondness: "Grandpa, where did you get that cockamamie hat you're wearing?" But it is such a funny word, we should pass it on to the next generation, too: "A bat flew into the car window and caused you to swerve into a tree? Do you expect me to believe a cockamamie story like that?!"

Word History: In the middle of the 19th Century sticking decals on everything became a mania in Victorian Britain, so much so that the Brits borrowed a French word, decalcomania "mania for decals", to describe it. (Our current word, decal, by the way, is an abbreviation of that word.) The original word, decalcomania is made up of the prefix de- "from, off + calquer "to copy, trace", plus the word for "mania", French manie. So what has this cockamamie story to do with today's Good Word? Cockamamie is, in fact, nothing in the world but a mispronunciation of decalcomania that, over the years, has gained currency as the slang adjective it is today.
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Postby Stargzer » Fri Feb 24, 2006 12:49 am

I guess we can truly call that etymology a cockamamie story . . .

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Philip Hudson
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Postby Philip Hudson » Fri Feb 24, 2006 9:07 am

Some words are just asking to die. If you don't drive a roadster with a raccoon tail on the radio aerial then you should not even know what cockamamie means. The word deserves to die. It is just too cockamamie to exist.
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