• succotash •
sêk-ê-tęsh • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Noun, mass
Meaning: A vegetable dish consisting of corn and lima beans (butterbeans), possibly enlivened with strips of pimento, or perhaps even a boiled tomato or two.
Notes: Great suffering succotash! Who cares about this word? Well, succotash was popularized by the ever sialoquent Looney Tunes character, Sylvester the Cat, who expostulated, "Sufferin' succotash!" every time he was foiled by his arch-nemesis, Tweety Bird. The fun begins in these cartoons by Friz Freleng when Tweety innocently notes, "I tawt I taw a puddy tat!" Why succotash? Well, because it has two Ss, which Mel Blanc, who provided Sylvester's voice, liked to sputter.
In Play: The only sense of today's Good Word is that all-American vegetable dish mentioned in the Meaning above: "Mom didn't cook enough lima beans or corn for dinner, so she poured them together and–voila!–an even more elegant dish of succotash!" That does not preclude us from using it as an interjection of surprise: "Suffering succotash! Who forgot to return the pot to the coffee maker after turning it on?!"
Word History: This word's history is very straightforward and shallow. It was originally the Narragansett word msķckquatash "boiled corn". Since the American Indian languages were not written, we have no historical records of their development. This leaves me a little room here, so let me just note that the name of Sylvester the Cat is based on the scientific name felis silvestris "wild cat" even though he is an obvious example of a felis catus "domestic cat". For those of you familiar with another cartoon character, Felix the Cat, his name is a mixture of felis and the related adjective, felix "happy, fortunate". (Well, suffering succotash! Here's another Good Word suggested by William Hupy, who also suggested zoonosis recently.)