Posted: 26 October 2017 03:07 PM   [ Ignore ]
Total Posts:  848
Joined  2013-10-14

Interesting etymologies

Bum, meaning buttocks, which is mainly an informal British usage has many compound variations from the word e.g. bum-boy, bum-beating, bum-sucker etc.


Etymology: Origin uncertain.
Probably onomatopoeic, to be compared with other words of similar sound and with the general sense of ‘protuberance, swelling’, e.g. bump n.1, bumb n. a pimple, modern Icelandic bumba belly of a cask or other vessel, French bombe bomb n. Compare also bum v.1 (The guess that bum is ‘a mere contraction of bottom’, besides its phonetic difficulties, is at variance with the historical fact that ‘bottom’ in this sense is found only from the 18th cent.)

Bum, meaning, a lazy person, a tramp, a loafer might be short for bummer:


bummer, n.3
Etymology: compare German bummler in same sense.
U.S. slang.
An idler, lounger, loafer. See also quots.
1855 Oregonian (Portland, Oregon) 27 Jan. 1/4 Come, clear out, you trunken loafer! Ve don’t vant no bummers here!
1856 San Francisco Call 25 Dec.  ‘Pon my word I’m no bummer. I never ate a lunch in all my life without taking a square drink.

And also:


bummer, n.5

Etymology: < bum adj. + -er suffix1.
orig. and chiefly U.S.
An unpleasant or depressing experience, esp. one induced by a hallucinatory drug (= down trip n. at down adj. 1e); a disappointment or failure. Freq. as complement to subj.: to be a bummer.
1967 J. Didion in Sat. Evening Post 23 Sept. 26/3 I ask if he found a ride to New York. ‘I hear New York’s a bummer,’ he says.
1968 Electronic Music Rev. Jan. 19 The declaimed lyric is an example of what heads would call a ‘bummer’.
1968 T. Leary Politics of Ecstasy viii. 166 The Western world has been on a bad trip, a 400-year bummer.

Note that some of these OED entries are not too recent.

Posted: 27 October 2017 05:22 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
Total Posts:  360
Joined  2007-02-24

I’m curious about the word “trunken” in the sentence, “Come, clear out, you trunken loafer! ...” I believe it is German. It is so close to the English “drunken” in spelling and meaning, but I can not find a connection between the two. “Drunken”, from “drunk” goes far back in English, with no connection to German that I could find. Do they both come from somewhere further back?

Posted: 27 October 2017 05:41 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
Total Posts:  4663
Joined  2007-01-29

I believe it is German.

No, it’s an attempt to represent German-accented English; switching voiced and voiceless consonants is a standard feature of such attempts (as it is in Russian texts to indicate German-accented Russian).

“Drunken”, from “drunk” goes far back in English, with no connection to German that I could find. Do they both come from somewhere further back?

Yes, English drink/drank/drunk(en) and German trinken/trank/getrunken are both from proto-Germanic *drenk-a- ‘to drink’ (which has no secure Indo-European etymology).  The German forms have t- because of the High German consonant shift.