Tunket
Posted: 03 March 2009 09:56 AM   [ Ignore ]
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See, I told my parents all those years ago that comics were educational!  I’ve just come across a word that’s new to me in an old Journey Into Fear.

“Lizzie! Where in tunket are ye?”

OED has:

tunket

U.S. dial. or colloq.

[Origin doubtful.]

Euphem. for hell; chiefly who (what, why, etc.) in tunket.

1871 Scribner’s Monthly II. 630 What in tunket are you making such a to-do about it for?

Latest cite is 1971, so I presume it’s still in use? Odd word. Have any of the American dialect dictionaries got anything on origin?

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Posted: 03 March 2009 02:53 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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My Googling came up with:

“Kit of Greenacre farm” (1919)
http://www.archive.org/stream/kitofgreenacrefa00forr/kitofgreenacrefa00forr_djvu.txt

“ Was he heading this way? “ the Judge asked.
“ I want him to look at my peach trees and tell
me what in tunket ails them.”

“ Why, Judge, I’m surprised at you, and be-
fore the children, too.” Cousin Roxy’s eyes
twinkled with mirth at having caught the Judge
in a lapse.

“ I only said tunket, Roxy,” he began, but
Cousin Roxy cut him short.

“ Tunket’s been good Connecticut for Tophet
ever since I was knee high to a toadstood, and
we won’t say anything more about that.

This would imply that tunket was a minced oath for Tophet, a place of human sacrifice referred to in scripture. Tophet itself is also used as a mild synonym for Hell, so tunket would be doubly euphemistic.

EDIT: of course, either the author or the character might be wrong about this.

[ Edited: 03 March 2009 06:33 PM by OP Tipping ]
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