Daft
Posted: 11 October 2011 01:55 PM   [ Ignore ]
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The mention of Daffy Duck’s debut in Dave’s 1937 words thread prompted me to check out daft in OED, where I found it was a sister-under-the-skin to deft and had a fascinating sense-development which OED compares with silly.

In early Middle English daffte , corresponding to Old English gedæfte mild, gentle, meek < Old Germanic *gadaftjo-z , < gadafti vbl. n. from stem daƀ-, in Gothic gadaban to become, be fit, Old English past participle gedafen becoming, fit, suitable. The æ here is apparently for umlaut ę before ft , st , which explains the two-fold Middle English development daft and deft . The primary meaning of the adj. must have been ‘becoming, fit’; compare the adv. gedæftlíce fitly, suitably, seasonably, and the vb. gedæftan to make fit or ready, to prepare; from ‘fit, ready, apt’ came the general later sense of deft ; from ‘becoming, decens ’ as said of persons, came that of ‘meek, mild, innocent’, and from ‘innocent, inoffensive’ apparently that of ‘irrational’ said of beasts, and of ‘silly, foolish, deficient in sense’ as said of persons: compare a common sense of ‘innocent’, and the sense-history of silly adj., n., and adv. See also deft adj.

daff n.1, ‘a fool,’ is found c1325; its relationship to daft is uncertain; if originally distinct, it may have contributed to the development of the sense ‘foolish’ here.

Daffy as an adjective meaning daft, simple has a first cite of 1884.

And who on earth knew that Daffy was once a slang term for gin?

Daffy, n.1

Etymology:  < the name of Thomas Daffy , an English clergyman of the seventeenth century.

Orig. in Daffy’s elixir, a medicine given to infants, ‘tinctura sennæ composita’ (Dunglison), to which gin was commonly added; hence, a slang name for gin itself.

Here’s the earliest cite in OED and the two most recent.

1680 The True News: or, Mercurius Anglicus no. 33 10–13 Mar. [2]/2 Whereas divers Persons have lately exposed to sale a counterfeit Drink called Elixir Salutis, the true Drink of that Name, having been long since published by Mr. Anthony Daffy, (and generally known by the name of Daffy’s Elixir Salutis), [etc.].
1882 Punch 29 Apr. 193/2 A good many of them‥had been partaking freely of daffy.
1967 E. Burton Georgians at Home vi. 226 They [sc. Ward’s pills] could hardly have done more harm or good than the snake-root and brandy‥, Daffy’s Elixir, usquebaugh, [etc.].

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Posted: 11 October 2011 09:54 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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What a convoluted etymology.  Congratulations for that little nugget, aldi. Interesting, that a word like “adept” (which looks and sounds like “deft”, and has a sense not too far from it), appears to have an entirely different etymology. Just a reminder of the point (that’s often been made here), that words which might look and sound alike, and even have similar meanings, aren’t necessarily related etymologically at all.

Unless I’m mistaken, “daft” in Lowland Scots is more or less a synonym for “crazy”.

I enjoyed the bit about gin. Kids two or three centuries ago could get quite respectably stoned from the family medicine cabinet, without having to go on the roof and inhale air-conditioner gases.

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Posted: 12 October 2011 04:57 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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gadafti
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ROFL

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Posted: 12 October 2011 05:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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gadafti
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ROFL

I hate missing the joke; what’s so funny?

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Posted: 12 October 2011 08:02 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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I remember American GaddafiDuck T-shirts maybe as far back as the 80s and it is still currency for cartoonists: http://www.englishblog.com/2011/03/cartoon-gaddafi-duck.html with a commentary below explaining the symbolism, etymology, etc. for people learning English.

[ Edited: 12 October 2011 08:08 AM by venomousbede ]
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Posted: 13 October 2011 08:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I hate missing the joke; what’s so funny?
---

Seemed a combo of Gaddafi and daft.

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Posted: 14 October 2011 05:13 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Ah, OK.  Thanks.

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Posted: 17 October 2011 01:14 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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lionello - 11 October 2011 09:54 PM

Kids two or three centuries ago could get quite respectably stoned from the family medicine cabinet …

They could enjoy themselves from the bathroom cabinet rather more recently than that. Babies’ gripe water regularly contained up to seven or eight per cent alcohol by volume until the 1970s or later, and there is at least one case of a mother inadvertently becoming addicted to gripe water.

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