• wabbit •
wæ-bit • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Adjective
Meaning: 1. Tired, worn out, exhausted, knackered. 2. Off-color, naughty, risqué.
Notes: I found this word carefully tucked away in the pages of the Oxford English Dictionary. You are unlikely to find it in other dictionaries, though the Collins English Dictionary is brave enough to support it. Neither of these sources, however, tells us about its family: is the comparative wabbiter or more wabbit? I would go with the latter. May we behave wabbitly when suffering from wabbitness? I will leave these issues to your discretion.
In Play: August 5, 1973, the Dundee (Scotland) Sunday Post asked, "Been feeling a bit wabbit lately? Blaming it on the heat and the close, thundery weather?" Then in 1985 Margaret Truman wrote in Murder in the Smithsonian, "'I'm feeling a bit wabbit,' she said. 'Wabbit?' 'Not well'." And didn't Elmer Fudd once say, after hunting Bugs Bunny for most of a cartoon, "I bewieve this wabbit is a bit wabbit." (I could be mistaken.)
Word History: We know that this word comes from that verbal oddity factory, Scotland, but I have no idea of how it arrived there. We do find an Old English word wap "to throw back, flap" that can't be semantically connected to wabbit. An old noun woubit "wooly bear" looks a bit similar but not semantically so. We could be talking about someone in a Scottish village, so exhausted from hunting rabbits and fortifying himself along the way, that he could not talk clearly. The result could have been a confusion of words that led to the creation of a word so amusing that the whole village began repeating it. Weirder things have happened.
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