Mudcat Café message #155837 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #16574   Message #155837
Posted By: McGrath of Harlow
30-Dec-99 - 06:30 PM
Thread Name: Wasn't this about music?
Subject: RE: Wasn't this about music?
Just looked up curmudgeon in a big dictionary I bought in a boot fair*.

Here's what it said:

Etymology unknown. In the first edition of his Dictionary Johnson doubtfully suggests as the origin of the word, coeur mechant, giving as the source of the suggestion "an unknown correspondent"; Ash, the compiler of an English Dictionary a little later, misunderstood this and boldly explained the word as derived from:
Fr.coeur "unknown", and mechant "a correspondent"

So for a brief shining moment at least curmudgeon was defined as meaning "an unknown correspondent". Not such a bad term for our anonymous friend.

But it's a great sounding word, and I'm honoured to be accorded it. Especially in such compamy.

Oh yes, the dictionary meaning:

"A churlish, cross-grained, surly, ill-tempered cantankerous fellow."

Yup, I can live with that. In fact I can revel in it.

*(The Universal English Dictionary, edited by Henry Cecil Wyld B.Lit.,M.A., Hon. Ph.D. Upsala; Honorary Member of the Linguistic Society and of the Modern Lanmguage Assiociation of America; Late Merton Professor of English Language and Literature in the University of Oxford. With an Appendix by Eric Partridge, Author of "Slang and Unconventional English"; "Usage and Abusage: A Guide to Good English." Published by The Waverley Book Company in London.)