• dollop •
dah-lêp • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun
Meaning: 1. A substantial lump of a soft substance, like a dollop of mashed potatoes. 2. A small splash, say, a dollop of whiskey added to another beverage. 3. A modicum, say, a dollop of truth in a report.
Notes: Today's contributor and I conversed about this word by e-mail for a month last year. My claim was that we know too little of the history of this word to include it in the GW series. However, I've decided that it is such an interesting word to include it. A bit of our conversation might well pass as Word History.
In Play: This word usually turns up in connection with food: "I would like a slice of apple pie with a large dollop of whipped cream." It may be used elsewhere, though: "Siddy Hall's announcement of her campaign for mayor was straightforward except for a dollop of wit here and there."
Word History: This word was probably borrowed from the Vikings, from something like Norwegian dolp "lump". Where dolp came from is an open question. Similar words, such as collop, wallop, and trollop seem to all be non-native with mysterious origins. There is something curiously amusing about them, resemblant of funny little words like clop, flop, whop, and sop, as in milksop. Collop is included in The 100 Funniest Words in English. We have written records of collop earlier than records of dollop. Since both are connected to food, collop may have influenced dollop. (Now for a healthy dollop of gratitude for Rob Towart for his persistence in suggesting today's very Good Word.)