• conniption •
kê-nip-shên • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: (Slang) A hissy (fit), a temper tantrum, a hysterical fit of anger or panic, a violent irrational reaction to an unpleasant surprise.
Notes: Today's Good Word is one of those inventions by Americans to make fun of "fifty-cent words", as Will Rogers put it. It stands alone, a lexical orphan, though I think we could be forgiven for an adjective, conniptious, in the sense of "given to throwing conniptions" or "like a conniption". That reminds me, we throw (or have) conniptions, or conniption fits.
In Play: Today's word may be used in its original sense: "Manley Guy threw a conniption when offered a strawberry daiquiri instead of his usual scotch." But it is mostly used hyperbolically as a synonym for emotional frustration: "Dot Matriks has a conniption if the baby-sitter arrives five minutes late."
Word History: The origin of today's Good Word is uncertain, though several speculations have been proposed. It may be related to corruption in the sense of "anger, temper" from the 1790s. It could also be a mispronunciation of Scots English carnaptious "ill-tempered, cantankerous" under the influence of snip(py) or nip. The origin of carnaptious is as much a mystery as that of conniption, possibly a misguided extension of captious in the sense of "cavilling, fault-finding". (Today's Good Word comes from Dr. Goodword, a US southerner who grew up with a mother and aunts who enjoyed this word immensely.)
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