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fuddy-duddy

Printable Version Pronunciation: -dee--dee Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun

Meaning: A fuddy-duddy is an old-fashioned, prudish person, an old fogy, a soft, warm milquetoast of a person who avoids anything new or exciting, but is pleasant to relax with, like an old glove. Most mama's boys grow up to be fuddy-duddies.

Notes: Fuddy-duddy itself is a fuddy-duddy of a word in that it is a bit dated, though it still retains its place in English somewhere between milquetoast and square. The plural is fuddy-duddies, as we saw above.

In Play: People whom this amusing word fits are generally anachronisms living at least slightly in the past: "Aunt Prudence is such an old fuddy-duddy that she would never be seen in public without a hat and gloves." Fuddy-duddies may be, however, simply people living life in the slow lane: "On the weekends the park is filled with old fuddy-duddies out for the thrill of a game of checkers."

Word History: Duddy is an old Scottish word meaning "ragged, worn out" and may well underlie fuddy-duddy. It is probably related to the dud in duds, a colloquial word for "clothes". In any event the implication is something comfortable but past its prime so duds could be what we see in duddy. So, what about fuddy? English-speakers love rhyme and rhythm in their language, so, as mentioned before, we find English full of rhyming compounds like roly-poly, itsy-bitsy, dilly-dally, willy-nilly, including the euphemism for Jesus Christ, jeepers-creepers. This means that the fuddy in fuddy-duddy is pure nonsense and there is no explaining nonsense.

Dr. Goodword, alphaDictionary.com

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