Cancer 11: A clown making grimaces

T h e w o r d c l own a p p e a r s t o h a v e e n t e r e d t h e E n g l i s h la n g u a g e i n t h e mi d - 1 6 t h c e n t u r y . I t s o r i g i n i s u n c e r t a i n b u t m a y b e r e la t e d t o t h e I c e l a n d i c kl u nn i me a n i n g “ c l u m s y, b oo r i s h f e l l o w ” a n d / o r t h e S w e d i sh kl u n s m e a n i n g “ a h a r d k n o b , a clumsy fellow.”1 T h e w o r d ma ki n g i s t h e p r e s e n t p a r t i c i p l e o f t h e v e r b “ t o m a k e ” , a d e r i v a t i v e o f t h e r o o t ma g- , “ t o k n e a d , fa s h i on , f i t . ” 2 O t h e r d e r i v a t i v e s o f t h i s r o o t i n c l u d e ma s o n, m a t c h, a m o n g, m on gre l , m as s ,

a m a s s, a n d ma c e rat e .
T h e w o r d g r i mac e i s d e r i v a t i ve o f gh re m - w hi c h m e a n s “ a n g r y . ” 3 O t he r d e r i v a t i ve s i n c lu d e gri m , gru m b l e, a n d p o gro m. TH EMES : O d d l y , t he r e a r e s e v e r a l un fl a t t e ri n g p e r s o n a l i t y t r a i t s a n d b e h a v i o r s a m o n g t h e a b o ve k e y w o r d s , t h e i r r o o t s, a n d t h e i r p a r o n y m s —

c l o wn i s h , c l u m s y, b o o ri s h, m o n gre l, gri m , a n d gru m b l ing . T h e u n i f y i n g
t h e m e he r e i s BOOR ( a p e r so n w i t h r u d e , c l u m s y m a n n e r s a n d l i t t l e r e f i n e me n t ) a n d p e r h a p s i t s t w o h o m on y m s —BOA R ( a m a l e p i g) a n d BO RE ( on e t h a t i s w e a r i n g l y d u l l , r e p e t i t i v e , o r t e di o u s ) . 4 A m o n g t h e p h r a s e s t h a t ca n b e c on s t ru c t e d f r o m t h e k e yw o r d s a n d t h e i r p a r o n y m s a r e a gri m m a s on , a gru m b l i n g m o n gre l, a gri m a c i n g

m a t c h - m a ke r , a n d a m a s si ve p o g ro m .

1 http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=clown 2 Watkins, c. (2000), The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo -European Roots, p. 50 3 Watkins, c. (2000), The American Heritage Dictionary of Indo -European Roots, p. 32 4 http://thesaurus.com/browse/boor Starling Hunter © 2011 1

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