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Today's Word



May 27, 2024
This week’s theme
Terms formed from names

This week’s words
Hooray Henry
nervous Nelly
flash Harry
Aunt Sally
good-time Charlie

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with Anu Garg

When I meet someone who has an uncommon name, I ask them what their name means. Sometimes I’m surprised by the answer “I don’t know.” I mean you have had this name for decades and you don’t know what it signifies?

Often parents name their child based on a religious character, or someone they admire, a leader, an inventor, an entertainer. Or maybe a beloved grandparent or aunt. Or themselves.

So much in a name! It may even determine your destiny.

This week we’ll feature five people who have become terms in the English language. It’s not known who the person was. Sometimes a name is used in a phrase due to alliteration.

If they were to make a term from your name what would it be and what would it mean? What term would a public figure’s name turn into? Share below or email us at words@wordsmith.org. As always, include your location (city, state).

Hooray Henry

(hoo-ray HEN-ree)

noun: A young, upper-class man who behaves in a loud, obnoxious, and often pretentious manner.

From hooray, from hurra, alteration of huzza, perhaps a hoisting cry + Henry, a generic use of the name. Earliest documented use: 1936.

Although more popular in the UK, the term first appeared in an American publication, Collier’s Weekly, in 1936. The origin of the name Henry in this context is unclear, but it may have been chosen for its alliteration. The feminine equivalent is Hooray Henrietta. See also: Sloane Ranger.

“It’s no use wanting a really good woman if you insist on partying every night and being a Hooray Henry.”
Dina Zaman; Do You Want Her or Don’t You?; New Straits Times (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia); May 13, 1998.

“‘This is kind of like my last hurrah,’ Henry said.”
Celeste Whittaker; R-C Golf Team Makes NCAAs; Courier Post (Cherry Hill, New Jersey); May 5, 2009.

See more usage examples of Hooray Henry in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

Freedom is hammered out on the anvil of discussion, dissent, and debate. -Hubert Humphrey, US Vice President (27 May 1911-1978)

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