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VARMINT

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VARMINT

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Feb 20, 2012 11:47 pm

• varmint •

Pronunciation: vahr-mint • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: (Slang) 1. An animal considered obnoxious or troublesome. 2. A troublesome person, especially a mischievous child.

Notes: This word is almost always used humorously today. Use it in a conversation in which you would feel comfortable saying scalawag, rapscallion, and critter. One adjective has been proposed, varminty, meaning "having the appearance of a varmint". It could be used in the sense of "full of varmints".

In Play: We are usually safe using this word in reference to pesky animals: "The varmints are taking over my yard: the deer are eating the shrubbery, moles are tearing up the lawn, and bagworms are ruining my evergreens." Don't forget today's Good Word may be used in reference to noisome people, too: "Some varmint stole my desk while I was away on vacation."

Word History: We tend to associate this word with the Wild West, the frontier, where people were free to molest the language any way they pleased. However, this particular mispronunciation of vermin has been around at least since 1539, though seldom used until 1825. The meaning of vermin has expanded since it left Latin. It is a derivation from Latin vermis "worm". The derivation, vermina meant "belly pains", presumably caused by worms. By Old French it had changed to "parasites". In English it set out referring to insects and small animals, it then moved on to larger animals. Varmint, as mentioned before, includes humans. Vermin comes from the same root that gave English, a Germanic language, worm. (We are grateful to Ralph Mowery, who doesn't let varmints get him down and interfere with his sending in very Good Words like today's.)
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Postby misterdoe » Wed Feb 22, 2012 1:21 am

I had no idea this word was that old. Everytime I hear or see it I think of Yosemite Sam chasing Bugs Bunny.
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Postby LukeJavan8 » Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:41 pm

I think of the raccoons and possums who visit my
patio late night. Their bright lights in their eyes as
I flash my flashlight at them while they are rattling
trash cans and the like. Also the moles who have
a veritable GPS system in the yard. Just not cold
enough to freeze the ground this year.
-----please, draw me a sheep-----
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Postby scw1217 » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:12 pm

Came across this related word today:

verminate
[vur-muh-neyt] ver·mi·nate [vur-muh-neyt]

verb (used without object), -nat·ed, -nat·ing.

1. to become infested with vermin, especially parasitic vermin.
2. Archaic . to breed or infest with vermin.

Origin: 1685–95; < Latin verminātus, past participle of vermināre to be infested with maggots, to have racking pains, equivalent to vermin ( a ) racking pain + -ātus -ate1 ; dual sense of vermināre by association with vermis worm, maggot, vermin- being taken, perhaps erroneously, as an extended stem of this word

Related forms
ver·mi·na·tion, noun
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Postby Slava » Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:50 pm

Verminate, nice find. It would make a good horror movie theme and title: The Verminator.
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Postby Perry Lassiter » Tue Mar 06, 2012 8:55 pm

I note that Suzanne displays a penchant for spelling anything. Is that a knack or do you have a secret you could share? I'm a good speller, but if I look at any word, even cat, long enough I start to wonder.
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Postby scw1217 » Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:02 pm

Perry Lassiter wrote:I note that Suzanne displays a penchant for spelling anything. Is that a knack or do you have a secret you could share? I'm a good speller, but if I look at any word, even cat, long enough I start to wonder.


LOL. No secret. I am a professional proofreader, going on 16 years now. However, that doesn't stop me from typing the wrong word. But I can spell most anything once I've seen it once or twice.
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Postby scw1217 » Tue Mar 06, 2012 9:02 pm

Slava wrote:Verminate, nice find. It would make a good horror movie theme and title: The Verminator.


That was my thought!
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