Alphadictionary.com

Our Sponsors

Technical Translation
Website Translation Clip Art
 

Gussy

Use this forum to discuss past Good Words.

Gussy

Postby Dr. Goodword » Fri Oct 04, 2013 9:54 pm

• gussy •


Pronunciation: gê-see • Hear it!

Part of Speech: Verb, transitive

Meaning: (Slang) To dress to the hilt, dress to the nines, to deck out in a striking fashion.

Notes: Today's Good Word is a purely English one, so the usual cast of Latin suffixes, like -ment, -ive, and -ation are not available to it. The noun and adjective are both gussying and, aside from the regular verb forms like gussies and gussied, we have little to gussy it up with. Do be careful to change the Y to an I (i) when you add the English endings, though.

In Play: Today's Good Word is most frequently encountered in the phrase "all gussied up": "I saw Miss Maud Lynn Dresser, all gussied up as usual, gallivanting around the mall this morning." People aren't the only things suitable for gussying: "If the president and his wife are coming to dinner tomorrow night, I suppose I should gussy up the house a bit before they arrive."

Word History: This slang word, heard most often in the United States these days, apparently originated in Australia. At the turn of the century a gussie was an effeminate man, often stereotyped as someone who overdresses. Gussie is the nickname for both Augusta and Augustus, so it is impossible to determine which name lies behind gussie. The sixth month of the later Roman calendar was renamed in 8 BC to honor Emperor Augustus Caesar. Today it is the eighth month. This name came from augustus, a Latin word meaning "majestic, august, revered". Augustus is related to augur and augment. The root apparently meant "increase, improve" four thousand years ago—just what you do when you gussy up today! (Both gussy and gallivant were among my Southern mother's most distinctive words. I dedicate today's Good Word to her memory, Kathleen Bullard Beard of Eastover, North Carolina.)
• The Good Dr. Goodword
User avatar
Dr. Goodword
Site Admin
 
Posts: 3511
Joined: Wed Feb 02, 2005 9:28 am
Location: Lewisburg, PA

Re: Gussy

Postby Slava » Fri Oct 04, 2013 10:57 pm

Though I asked this in the first iteration of this post and received but one answer, I'll toss it out there again. Can a male get "gussied up" or is this a female only verb?
Life is like playing chess with chessmen who each have thoughts and feelings and motives of their own.
User avatar
Slava
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 4628
Joined: Thu Sep 28, 2006 9:31 am
Location: Finger Lakes, NY

Re: Gussy

Postby MTC » Sat Oct 05, 2013 1:46 am

In reply to Slava, "gussy" is an equal opportunity, unisex verb, though I have mostly heard it applied to females; otherwise, in a somewhat emasculating way to males.

"Gussy" calls up P.G. Wodehouse's comic character, the fish-faced newtophile, Augustus "Gussie" Fink-Nottle. I suspect without knowing that Wodehouse must have had the unavoidable homonym "gussy" in mind, probably ironically considering Fink-Nottle's repellent appearance. Still, according to The Telegraph, "Wodehouse may have followed the example of his friend Conan Doyle, who is thought to have named as many as 249 characters after cricketers."
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/book ... eeves.html

Your assignment, should you choose to accept it, identify the eponymous cricketer.
Last edited by MTC on Sat Oct 05, 2013 3:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
MTC
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1068
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:40 am
Location: Pasadena

Re: Gussy

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Oct 05, 2013 3:31 am

I can't imagine gussy as a transitive verb. Can someone give me an example. The only format I know is "gussied up" as in, "Sue got all gussied up for her date."
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
Philip Hudson
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1732
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2006 4:41 am
Location: Texas

Re: Gussy

Postby MTC » Sat Oct 05, 2013 3:44 am

Other authorities also have "gussy" as a transitive verb, for instance:

gus·sy (gs)
tr.v. gus·sied, gus·sy·ing, gus·sies Slang
To dress or decorate elaborately; adorn or embellish: gussied herself up in sequins and feathers.
[Perhaps from Australian slang gussie, an effeminate man, from Gussie, diminutive of the personal name Augustus.]

The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition copyright ©2000 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Updated in 2009. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

And when you think about it, someone or something is always being "gussied up." Because the verb takes an object, it is transitive.

Now, however, I see the more likely source of "Gussie," not a cricketer, but the diminutive of Augustus, or Australian slang for an effeminate man. Wodehouse may have had both senses in mind for Fink-Nottle.

Etymonline states:

gussy (v.)
"to dress up or decorate in a showy way," 1952, American English slang, apparently from Gussy (1940), schoolyard slang name for an overly dressed person, perhaps related to gussie (1901) "effeminate man," and somehow connected to the nickname for Augusta and Augustus.

OK, here's the complete story of "gussied up:"

http://www.phrases.org.uk/meanings/gussied-up.html
MTC
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1068
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:40 am
Location: Pasadena

Re: Gussy

Postby Philip Hudson » Sat Oct 05, 2013 7:17 pm

When I think of a transitive verb I think it is one that can take an object. Thus, if gussy is transitive, one could say, "The hair dresser will gussy Sue." I even have trouble identifying it as a verb. Isn't "gussied up" an adjective. I never heard it used without "up" being added as in, "Sue is gussied up." But then who said English has a grammar?

I cannot imagine a masculine use of the word. If John were gussied up, I would steer clear of John.

Even applied to a female and used as the Good Doctor's mother probably used it, it has a slight pejorative ring to it. If I really respected Sue, I would not say she was gussied up.
It is dark at night, but the Sun will come up and then we can see.
Philip Hudson
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1732
Joined: Thu Feb 23, 2006 4:41 am
Location: Texas

Re: Gussy

Postby MTC » Sun Oct 06, 2013 12:42 am

gus·sy [guhs-ee] Show IPA verb, gus·sied, gus·sy·ing. Informal.
verb (used with object)
1.
to enhance the attractiveness of in a gimmicky, showy manner (usually followed by up ): a room gussied up with mirrors and lights.
verb (used without object)
2.
to dress in one's best clothes (usually followed by up ): to gussy up for the ball.
Origin:
1935–40; of obscure origin

Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2013.

Looks like the verb's ambivalent, er, ambiguous or perhaps bisexual or transgender, that is, I mean...
MTC
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 1068
Joined: Mon Apr 05, 2010 11:40 am
Location: Pasadena

Re: Gussy

Postby Perry Lassiter » Sun Oct 06, 2013 9:12 am

Isn't gussied a past participle of gussy? And aren't participles, when not part of the sentence verb, adjectives? I agree with Philip that I have never heard someone gussy another person.
pl
Perry Lassiter
Grand Panjandrum
 
Posts: 2337
Joined: Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:41 pm
Location: RUSTON, LA


Return to Good Word Discussion

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 2 guests

cron