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Goldwynism (GOLD-wi-niz-em) noun

A humorous statement or phrase resulting from the use of incongruous or contradictory words, situations, idioms, etc.

[After Samuel Goldwyn (1879-1974), Polish-born US film producer, known for such remarks. Born Schmuel Gelbfisz, he changed his name to Samuel Goldfish after he went to UK, and to Samuel Goldwyn after moving to the US.]

Here are some examples of Goldwynisms:

  • Include me out.
  • When I want your opinion I will give it to you.
  • I'll give you a definite maybe.
  • If I could drop dead right now, I would be the happiest man alive.
  • Anybody who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined.
  • I may not always be right, but I am never wrong.
  • In two words im-possible.
Continuing the tradition of such eponyms as malapropism, spoonerism, and goldwynism, will bushism enter the dictionaries as the latest eponym in this category? Only time will tell.

"(Gregory) Peck also came up with a great Goldwynism: 'If they won't go to the box-office, you can't stop 'em.'" Iain Johnstone; Waxing Not Waning; The Times (London, UK); May 24, 1992.

"There was an air of Goldwynism about the row over Sinn Fein's proposals which Bairbre de Bruin, following her leader's example, thought too delicate to be committed to print. (The unionists, reasonably enough, thought Gerry Adams's verbal commitment wasn't worth the paper it was written on.)" Dick Walsh; All Roads Lead Back to Belfast Agreement; Irish Times (Dublin, Ireland); Jul 3, 1999.

This week's theme: eponyms.


To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter... to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of the simple life. -John Burroughs, naturalist and writer (1837-1921)

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