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Oct 7, 2019
This week’s theme
Pessimists and optimists from fiction who became words

This week’s words
Gummidge
Tigger
Debbie Downer
Tapleyism
Eeyore

gummidge
Mrs Gummidge
Art: Kyd (Clarke Joseph Clayton), 1887

Previous week’s theme
There’s a word for it
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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

Is the glass half-empty or half-full? This is supposed to be a test to tell optimists from pessimists, but life doesn’t always fit in nice little boxes (or glasses). Also, it depends on whom you ask. The glass is bigger than it needs to be, one might say. It’s not necessarily half-empty -- the other half is filled with air. And so on.

But let’s not make things too complicated. Let’s not destroy a metaphor that serves well, in general. So in this week’s A.Word.A.Day the glass is either half-empty or half-full, depending on whom you ask. We’ll meet five characters, pessimists and optimists, who rose up from the world of fiction and have become words in the English language.

Gummidge

PRONUNCIATION:
(GUH-mij)

MEANING:
noun: A peevish, pessimistic person.

ETYMOLOGY:
After Mrs Gummidge, a grumpy old widow in Charles Dickens’s novel David Copperfield (1850). She likes to say, “I am a lone lorn creetur’ ... and everythink goes contrairy with me.” Earliest documented use: 1873.

USAGE:
“His sister and I, inveterate Mrs Gummidges, glumly point out when he tries to cheer us up with this conceit that when things are going well, the nature of the wheel makes it equally certain that disaster is only a spin away.”
Jane Shilling; Don’t Worry -- You Can Look Back Fondly on a Midlife Crisis; The Daily Telegraph (London, UK); Nov 23, 2015.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality. -Desmond Tutu, clergyman (b. 7 Oct 1931)

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