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A.Word.A.Day--cringeworthy

Pronunciation RealAudio

This week's theme: eponyms.

Cringeworthy (KRINJ-wur-thee) adjective

Causing extreme embarrassment.

[From Old English cringan (to yield or shrink). So someone cringeworthy makes you feeling crinkled, etymologically speaking.]

The term was popularized by Cuthbert Cringeworthy, a character in the British comic strip The Bash Street Kids. Cuthbert is the brightest kid in the class, a bespectacled, hard-working Brit (I thought that was Harry Potter).

Wait, Cuthbert is also bossy and rude. He is a teacher's pet and looks exactly like him. No one wants to be seen with him. Clearly, Cringeworthy is a charactonym, a name that suggests personality traits of a character.

-Anu Garg (garg AT wordsmith.org)

"Not that there was much cringeworthy in the Tiger Bay forum; everyone behaved nicely and stayed on message incessantly." David Warner; Matters of Primary Importance and Signs of Change; Weekly Planet (Tampa, Florida); Aug 25, 2004.

X-Bonus

If only I could so live and so serve the world that after me there should never again be birds in cages. -Isak Dinesen (pen name of Karen Blixen), author (1885-1962)

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