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AWADmail Issue 440 - tmesis

A Weekly Compendium of Feedback on the Words in A.Word.A.Day and Tidbits about Words and Language


A supplement to AWADmail Issue 440.


From: Andrew Kerr (andrew andrewkerr.plus.com)
Subject: tmesis
Def: Stuffing a word into the middle of another word.

Back in the '60s I was PA to Randolph S Churchill, son of Sir Winston. They both had a passion for the English language and I was constantly asked to look up words in his 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary (OED). He was particularly pleased that tmesis was the only word in the language beginning with 'tm'. He delighted in the discovery of windfucker, that is what they call a kestrel in the Orkney Islands.


From: William Bailey (wbailey3276 gmail.com)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tmesis

In the Marines, the favorite tmesis was (is?) out-f-------standing. Of course, the f-word still functions in all parts of speech.


From: Joe Levy (diogenesla aol.com)
Subject: tmesis

Ah yes, I remember tmeses from my army days, when it was the "F" word that was stuffed, as in out-effing-rageous or in-effing-consequential. Or is that creamed-effing-chipped beef again?


From: Blair F. Bigelow (blairf.bigelow comcast.net)
Subject: tmesis

A probably unprintable example from a World War II American air base in England. As bomber squadrons returned from runs over Germany, some planes missing, some damaged and limping in, named over the base's loudspeaker was the pilot of each landing plane. As one severely damaged plane limped down the runway, the pilot's name boomed out, followed by "and he's only twenty fuckin'-one years old!" This was told to me by a now-deceased law professor who was one of the ground crew.


From: Leendert Dekker (leendert telkomsa.net)
Subject: tmesis

In my army days, something very definitive was affirmed to be definifuckintive.


From: Jimmie Carol Ellis (msjce1 juno.com)
Subject: tmesis

Well, the first time I ever heard something like this, from a nurse with whom I worked, it took about two clicks for it to hit me. Can't tell everyone this, but she said, "Adi-fuckin'-os!" I was floored!


From: James Campbell (james.n.campbell gmail.com)
Subject: tmesis

I am so glad to know that there is a word for this. My favorite example is what I heard from a drill sergeant decades ago, ". . . and don't do it a-goddam-gain."


From: Nancy Charlton (nbcharlton comcast.net)
Subject: tmesis

A gentleman I know emigrated to the USA from Italy after the war. He didn't know a word of English, and was advised to answer "Yes" to everything. He was at the barber shop one day, and was asked "Do you want a crew cut?" He remembered the advice and said "Yes." When he went home that day and his children were appalled at his appearance, and, he told me, "My wife, she no recca-me-nize.


From: Rhonda Stovin (rstovin shaw.ca)
Subject: Re: A.Word.A.Day--tmesis

I was once taught this was called an infix (in contrast to a suffix or prefix) -- now I have a-whole-nother word for it.


From: Phyllis Morrow (ffpm uaf.edu)
Subject: tmesis

I was once delighted to hear a mother admonishing her child not just to behave but to "be-really-have!" It started a continuing family discussion about the phonological and syntactic rules that must govern this phenomenon.

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