Dr. Goodword’s Language Blog

More Ladyfingers and Woolly Bears

Yesterday and today even more totally undescriptive names of commonplace things in our lives popped into my mind. There must be a word for such but I have not yet been able to find it. If I don’t, I’ll suggest a neologism to press into that service.

OK, here are more: You wouldn’t want an earwig anywhere near your ear nor a rollmop near your mouth if they were anything near what their names suggest.  If the names of things were that important, people who would never dream of eating dogs would avoid hotdogs with the same fervor.

We never serve wingnuts in our nutbowls nor fry silverfish.  Shooting a real bull’s eye is—ugh! The one on a target has nothing to do with bulls.  And wouldn’t a baked Alaska be a mouthful if it meant what its name describes?

OK, I could go on but I probably made my point Monday. I just added these because of the hidden humor in words we use every day—without thinking.  Wouldn’t English be dull without them?

2 Responses to “More Ladyfingers and Woolly Bears”

  1. Barbara Kelly Says:

    I read someplace…a long time ago that the English language is best suited (among languages) for humor. We can have fun with words. Not that you can’t in other languages but English offers more opportunity.The source labeled French the language of diplomacy and Spanish the language of love.
    I think German was the language for technical explanations.
    I can tell you that language amuses me every day!

  2. rbeard Says:

    I’m not sure what anyone would rest a case on but I would love to read any attempt. The fact that we borrow words from so many languages may give us more opportunities for humor. We make up ridiculous words—I’m working on the 100 funniest I know. But the Yiddish words we adopt are so close yet so alien that they are funny in and of themselves: schlemiel, schlep, meshugga, putz. I think you might mount a case for there being more humor in the English vocabulary itself for reasons like these.

    Maybe I’ll do some research one of these days.

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