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Dr. Goodword
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Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed May 08, 2013 11:11 pm

• raspberry •

Pronunciation: ræz-ber-ri • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: 1. The prickly bushes of the genus Rubus (rose family). 2. The edible fruit (berries) of many species of this genus. 3. A gesture of derision made by placing the tongue between the lips and blowing, so that the lips and tongue vibrate.

Notes: Don't be fooled by the pronunciation of this word: it isn't spelled razzberry. If you overcome this natural tendency, the only grammatical point of any interest at all is the shift of Y to IE before the plural S: raspberries.

In Play: The French learned early on that the raspberry is the best berry to accompany chocolate: "Those chocolate raspberry martinis sure do hit the spot. I'll have another." The other type of raspberry is not so appealing: "When I asked her age, she replied by giving me a raspberry!" (She should be under ten for that response to be age appropriate.)

Word History: In the 1540s the berry was known as the raspis berry. It could be that raspis came from raspise, a sweet rose-colored wine. If so, this word would have come from Anglo-Latin vinum raspeys, of beclouded origins. In any event, Old French contained a word raspe from Medieval Latin raspecia "raspberry", which English borrowed and added berry to make the word clearer. The sense of "gesture of derision" comes from the late 19th century, and is shortening of raspberry tart, Cockney rhyming slang for fart, since the two sound so much alike. (Lest Kathleen McCune of Norway send me an e-raspberry, I should not like to forget thanking her for suggesting today's intriguing Good Word.)
Last edited by Dr. Goodword on Thu May 09, 2013 3:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Raspberry

Postby MTC » Thu May 09, 2013 8:08 am

"Raspberry" alternately rewards and defeats our intuitions. Because of its sound, we think it must be related to "razz," and it is. Because of its spelling, we think it must come from "rasp," but it doesn't. The verb "razz" which means "to heckle or tease" takes its cue from the raspy sound of "raspberry" in the slang expression "to give someone the raspberry." But even though they are spelled the same, rasp in raspberry from Anglo-Latin "raspise," a wine, and "rasp" from Old French "rasper," a tool, have very different meanings. Still, by association "rasp" the sharp-edged tool augments the meaning of "raspberry," the berry of a sharp-edged, thorny bush.

Philip Hudson
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Re: Raspberry

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat May 11, 2013 7:31 pm

The Texas hinterlands never got the raspberry except in its literal sense. I never heard it used thus until I was grown. If it is rhyming slang, is it Cockney?
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Perry Lassiter
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Re: Raspberry

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sat May 11, 2013 8:58 pm

No. Heard it all my life as in "give him the raspberry."

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Re: Raspberry

Postby call_copse » Fri May 17, 2013 8:18 am

Sorry Perry, it is one hundred percent Cockney at least in origin - even the explanation admits this - of course it has spread, like raspberry jam.

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