Catty wompus, conniptions, and whopperjawed

You gotta love Texans….if we can’t think of a word we just make one up one the spot. Doesn’t matter what word we use as a placeholder or invent, most of the folks ’round here instinctively get our drift.

The other day I was in a store chatting with the clerk and she used a term I hadn’t run across before: whopperjawed (also whomperjawed). Such a lovely word! I immediately had to add it to my expanding vocabulary, along with catty whompus, doofachy and conniption.

The other interesting thing about these made up words is the inconsistent spelling. After all, most of them are based on phonetics and the dialects will dictate the spelling. For example: catty whompus, cattywampus, caddy wampus, cattie wompus.

I also love the variety of words for gizmos and gadget–you know, those things that we either can’t recall the real word for, or just plain don’t know whatchamacallit: thingamabob, thingamadoodle, doofachy, thingermajig.

Some words work equally well for people or things, such as doofachy. When used with a person, you can substitute for first and last names: doofachy zizbattery; although only when referring the person in the third person.

Conniptions and hissy fits are apt and descriptive and sound more colourful than simply saying, “he got mad.” And a board that is slaunchways seems more off kilter than merely stating, “it’s crooked.”

Language is personable and evolving; and while some terms should be dropped in to abysmal darkness of the Marianna Trench, these slightly old-fashioned and interesting terms ought to be around for a long time since they transcend geographic and political boundaries, as well as language boundaries. Anyone can use them and you still pick up the meaning from context.

So what’s your favorite nonsensical word?




Posted on 2014/08/09, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. My Junior High School wood shop teacher in Pittsburgh used cattywampus to describe anything we built that didn’t go according to plan. I grew up with dohickies and thingamajigs. These days I just use “thingie” as in “I’m looking for the thingie that goes next to the other thingie “. The scary thing is how often my wife understands me. Great post. I learned some new ones.

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