Pimp My Word | Episode Six

I didn’t receive any requests this week, but fortunately, I was able to reverse-engineer an episode from a discussion at work earlier this week. This week’s pimped word(s): beauty and beautiful.

An article in the paper used the word pulchritudinous, so we looked it up. Pulchritude means “Great physical beauty and appeal,” according to the American Heritage Dictionary, and pulchritudinous means “Characterized by or having great physical beauty and appeal.”

However, like some of the cars that come out of Pimp My Ride, this isn’t really better than the simpler word. Telling your wife she is beautiful might get you a smile; telling her she is pulchritudinous might get you a confused look at best, or slapped at worst.

Pulchritude comes from the “Middle English pulcritude, from Latin pulchritūdō, from pulcher, pulchr-, meaning beautiful.”

Requests for future episodes can be sent via TwitterFacebooke-mail or in the comments below.

Pimp My Word | Episode Five

I’ll keep the requester of this one anonymous, for reasons that will become obvious (it’s not anyone I work with, so rest easy, Courier-Journalists).

The requester was looking for a word to describe someone as clueless without the clueless one realizing it.

My standard toolbox for Pimp My Word, Webster’s New World Roget’s A-Z Thesaurus, didn’t have an entry for clueless. So I checked ignorant, but most of the words there were too obvious. Ignorant led me to stupid, which had some good ones (cracked, addleheaded and damn-fool among them), but still nothing that might leave the target “groping in the dark” (another suggestion from stupid). But stupid suggested the second entry for shallow, and there I struck gold: piffling.

The American Heritage Dictionary explains what it means to piffle: “To talk or act feebly or futilely.” The OED’s definition is even more fun: “To talk or behave in an ineffectual way; to talk nonsense, to witter; to dither or fiddle.”

Sounds pretty clueless to me, and obscure enough that it could just slip past an empty head.

The dictionaries say piffle’s origin is unknown, though Merriam-Webster Online suggests: “perhaps blend of piddle and trifle.” M-W and the OED date it to the mid-19th century.

Requests for future episodes can be sent via TwitterFacebooke-mail or in the comments below.

Pimp My Word | Episode Four

My friend Lindsay, who makes and sells jewelry, reports that her mustache earrings are selling like hotcakes, likely for ironic reasons. She asked me to pimp the word mustache.

I found a variety of mustache slang, but my favorite came from my Webster’s New World thesaurus: soupstrainer.

A mustache blog offered some other slang: grass grin, lip foliage, face fungus, and nose neighbor (another good one). Anyone else have any good ones? And what’s your favorite?

Mustache (or moustache if you’re a Brit) comes from the “Middle French moustache, from Old Italian mustaccio, from Middle Greek moustaki, diminutive of Greek mystak-, mystax, meaning upper lip, mustache,” according to Merriam-Webster online.

Requests for future episodes can be sent via TwitterFacebooke-mail or in the comments below.

Pimp My Word | Episode Three

So last week, Nathan threw down the gauntlet and asked me to pimp chifferobe. (His exact words: “How about chifferobe? Go ahead and pimp that, WordBoy!”) This seems like a word that is already pretty pimp, but I’m giving it my best shot.

A chifferobe, or chifforobe, is a “tall piece of furniture typically having drawers on one side and space for hanging clothes on the other,” according to the American Heritage Dictionary. The word is mainly used in the Southern United States, according to AHD. It is a combination of chiffonier (a narrow high chest of drawers or bureau, often with a mirror attached, AHD) and wardrobe.

Armoire (a large, often ornate cabinet or wardrobe, AHD) was the first word that came to mind, but I think that although it is pretty pimp, it is not as pimp as chifferobe. So I started looking around for other pieces of oddly-named bedroom storage furniture.

I came up with the bombé chest. It’s not quite the same (only drawers, no hanging space). But if you are looking for a change in your bedroom storage options, and one that lets you use a new word, this is your choice.

Bombé means “Curving or bulging outward. Used of furniture,” AHD. It is a French word that means bomb. Bombé is from “Italian bomba, probably from Latin bombus, meaning a booming sound, from Greek bombos, of imitative origin.”

BOOM, Nathan. Chifferobe has been pimped.

If anyone has any requests for future episodes, send them via TwitterFacebooke-mail or in the comments below.

Note: Chifforobe picture from Target; bombé chest picture from Bombe Chests and More.

Pimp My Word |Episode Two

Last week, I offered to take boring, beat-up old words and make them ostentatious. I have one more request to take care of. If anyone has any requests for future episodes, send them via TwitterFacebooke-mail or in the comments below.

SBP0123 asked me to pimp the word fun, saying, “I was taught that ‘fun’ was a noun, not an adjective, but more and more people use it to describe something, e.g. ‘I had a fun time.’ It gets on my nerves big time.”

While I don’t have a problem with the word fun as an adjective, if you’re looking for a pimped alternative, how about blithesome? It means cheery or merry.

Pimp My Word | Pilot episode

In yesterday’s Talk Wordy to Me birthday post, I mentioned that my “Pimp my word” post (about the origins of the word pimp) was the most-viewed on the site in its first year. This is largely because 188 people found my blog searching for either “pimp my word” or “pimp my words.” I didn’t realize there was a market out there for a service where I take a boring, beat-up old word and make it ostentatious. (With thanks to Xzibit and “Pimp My Ride.”)

So yesterday, I offered to pimp words, and I got two requests. I’ll do one today and the other next week. And you can send in more requests via Twitter, Facebook, e-mail or in the comments below.

JD (The Engine Room) asked me to pimp the word blue.

How about we pimp that with one of my favorite colors from my big box of Crayolas when I was a kid: cerulean. American Heritage Dictionary defines it as “Azure; sky-blue” and gives this etymology: “From Latin caeruleus , dark blue; akin to caelum, sky.”

Happy birthday to Talk Wordy to Me

Wow. Talk Wordy to Me turns one today. It doesn’t seem like it’s been that long.

I’ve been resisting posting anything about the blog’s stats, but today seems like a good day to let the geek loose and share some numbers about the past year:

  • Number of page views: 14,193
  • Total posts (including this one): 199
  • Total comments: 314
  • Most popular post (356 views): Pimp my word (more on this in a second)
  • Second most popular post (258): Jell vs. gel. Go!
  • Third most popular post (256): A myriad of misconceptions (Well, just one, really)
  • Fourth most popular post (168): Churchill might not have put up with that, but he liked to pedantically oppose this
  • Fifth most popular post (150): Play this game
  • Weirdest thing about the blog: The two most common terms people found my blog through via search engines are “pimp my words” with 102 instances and “pimp my word” with 86. The “Pimp my word” post  was an exploration of the origins of the word pimp. But apparently there are people who are looking for someone to fix up their dull words and make them ostentatious, like Xzibit does with beater cars in “Pimp My Ride.” OK, I’ll give it a try. If anyone sends me a boring, beat-up old word in the comments or in e-mail, I’ll add rims, a 42-inch plasma and a popcorn machine — IN YOUR WORD! Or I’ll just find a longer, more obscure alternative.

It’s gratifying that after the pimp post, the next three most popular are ones that address confusing word usages. Many of those hits came from people searching for advice, and I’m glad that this blog has been useful to a handful of people beyond just amusing me.

Thanks to everyone who’s read and supported Talk Wordy to Me in the past year.

Pimp my word

I was reading a New York Times story about South Korean prostitutes, and I got to wondering about the word pimp.

Pimp has evolved into a word that can carry a positive connotation. Cool things are pimpin’ or just pimp (though those are pretty stale as slang), and people ask Xzibit to “Pimp My Ride.”

Of course, it has negative connotations. Pimps are the men who control prostitutes. And someone who has wide success in sleeping with women might be called a pimp. (That’s mostly negative because a woman who does the same thing with men generally gets  called a slut.)

But where does pimp come from? Those who call themselves pimps might be surprised at Merriam-Webster Online’s etymology: “probably akin to British dialect pimp small bundle of sticks, Middle English pymple papule, German Pimpf young boy, kid, literally, little fart, Pumpf, Pumps fart. Date: 1600.”

The Oxford English Dictionary isn’t so sure about that, though, or really about anything of its origin:

“A connection with German Pimpf small boy (c1920 or earlier in this sense, originally derogatory) has been suggested, but this presents semantic problems, and the German word is only attested much later.
“Another suggestion is that the word may be shortened < PIMPERNEL n. … but this also presents semantic problems.
“The similarity to the following French words is probably coincidental: pimpant alluring or seducing in outward appearance or dress, in later use also elegant, coquettish, affected (c1500 in Middle French as pinpant), pimper to adorn, attire (a person, oneself) (1578 in Middle French; now regional (Wallonia, Picardy)); these are ultimately of imitative origin.”

The OED also has an interesting list of obsolete compound words formed with pimp:

  • pimp errant n. Obs. rare: a travelling pimp.
  • pimp-master n. Obs. rare: a chief pimp.
  • pimp-master general n. humorous Obs.: the chief of all pimps (as a supposed office or title).
  • pimp-tenure n. Obs.: money paid for the lodging and other expenses of prostitutes.
  • pimp-whiskin n. colloq. Obs.: a pander, a procurer