Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog

The Odd Origin of the Word ‘Twerp’

Brett Davis has written in with the following question:

Someone just called me a twerp and, while I know what it means, I’d like
to know more about just what makes it tick.

We only know what J. R. R. Tolkien tells us in a letter written to a friend in 1944 (published in 1981): “He lived in O[xford] at the time when we lived in Pusey Street (rooming with Walton, the composer, and going about with T. W. Earp, the original twerp).” He was referring to the poet T. W. Earp then at Exeter College, Oxford.

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