Wordsmith.org: the magic of words

Wordsmith Talk

About Us | What's New | Search | Site Map | Contact Us  

Page 1 of 2 1 2 >
Topic Options
#112607 - 09/24/03 11:05 AM Etymology
Scilla Offline

Registered: 09/24/03
Posts: 2
I have got a question.
Being prone to irritation, I often burst out with words such as 'fiddlesticks!' and phrases (silly as can be, of course) such as 'poppycock and dewberries!'
This morning I was practicing my instrument when I made a mistake. I yelled 'fiddlesticks!' and a relation who heard asked if I knew why that word is used as an expostulation, since it means a violin bow.
I was immediately curious. This word is used a good deal- And I doubt many people know what it means. I looked it up on the Internet, but only found a few things. Does anyone have a good etymology for it?

#112608 - 09/24/03 11:17 AM Re: Etymology
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
All AHD4 will say is that you're right.


#112609 - 09/24/03 12:50 PM Re: Etymology
of troy Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 10/17/00
Posts: 5400
Loc: rego park
don't ya just love words that have there meaning staring you in the face, and somehow, you missed it?

disaster! -- one day, i finally realized, dis- a negative prefix, could mean not (dis obey)/or undone, (disrobe) and aster..stars. a bad outcome, one that was not predicted in some important persons 'star chart'... an unforseen event.. a disaster!

isn't self evident that fiddle sticks are bows?
and isn't fun to find out some 'self evident' etymologies are that at all --like the stupid psuedo feminists saying herstory for history.. (as if history was his story!)

my other obsession

#112610 - 09/24/03 01:21 PM Re: Etymology
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
Welcome, Scilla!

Well, I found this, but it isn't attributed:

fiddlestick (15c., originally "the bow of a fiddle;" meaning "nonsense" is from 1621)


#112611 - 09/24/03 01:24 PM Re: Etymology
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
isn't attributed


#112612 - 09/24/03 01:32 PM Meanwhile, Scilla,
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
... I also found this:

Fiddlesticks: 'It's all fiddlesticks' implies that it is all nonsense.... I can't find a modern origin but, in 1811 "Fiddlestick's end" meant "nothing". The ancient fiddlestick (violin bow) ended in a point, hence, metaphorically, used to express a thing terminating in nothing.

http://members.madasafish.com/~jbriggs/book/e & f.htm

(both above sources thanks to MaxQ and his magical reference page: http://maxqnz.com/References.html)

#112613 - 09/24/03 01:38 PM Re: Etymology - tangential
shanks Offline
old hand

Registered: 03/16/00
Posts: 1004
Loc: London, UK
Dear Scilla

On fiddlesticks, I must confess to not knowing why a fiddle's stick should be considered nonsense, but I am reasonably certain that poppycock comes from the Afrikaans (I think the original spelling is paape-kak, or some such) and refers to soft squidgy dung.

Don't know if that helps...


the sunshine warrior

#112614 - 09/24/03 01:54 PM Re: Etymology - tangential
AnnaStrophic Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 03/15/00
Posts: 6511
Loc: lower upstate New York
Soft squidgy dung

I for one will certainly file that away. And it's good to see you, shanks!

#112615 - 09/24/03 02:26 PM Re: Etymology - tangential
Faldage Offline
Carpal Tunnel

Registered: 12/01/00
Posts: 13803
shanks! Welcome home!

Re: Poppycock

AHD4 agrees with you:


#112616 - 09/24/03 02:28 PM Re: Etymology - tangential
Alex Williams Offline

Registered: 01/05/01
Posts: 1814
Loc: Spam Factory
I've always thought that exclamations like "fiddlesticks" and "shoot!" were substitutions for other, more vulgar, oaths such as f--k and s--t. Likewise darn for damn, heck for hell, gosh for God, etc. They don't have to make any sense, as they're just substitute sounds, such as when "Doctor Evil" in the Austin Powers films says, "Throw me a frickin' bone here, people!"

Page 1 of 2 1 2 >

Moderator:  Jackie 
Forum Stats
8914 Members
16 Forums
13860 Topics
221044 Posts

Max Online: 3341 @ 12/09/11 02:15 PM
Newest Members
GaryGellin, Hamna, Preboomer, Smithwillsam, folatre
8914 Registered Users
Who's Online
0 registered (), 133 Guests and 3 Spiders online.
Key: Admin, Global Mod, Mod
Top Posters (30 Days)
endymion6 93
LukeJavan8 78
wofahulicodoc 77
May 41
A C Bowden 13
Tromboniator 2
GaryGellin 1
Top Posters
wwh 13858
Faldage 13803
Jackie 11613
tsuwm 10537
LukeJavan8 8114
Buffalo Shrdlu 7210
AnnaStrophic 6511
wofahulicodoc 6490
Wordwind 6296
of troy 5400

Disclaimer: Wordsmith.org is not responsible for views expressed on this site. Use of this forum is at your own risk and liability - you agree to hold Wordsmith.org and its associates harmless as a condition of using it.

Home | Today's Word | Yesterday's Word | Subscribe | FAQ | Archives | Search | Feedback
Wordsmith Talk | Wordsmith Chat

© 1994-2016 Wordsmith