Awful Words

CNN has the link to a Mental Floss story about the etymology of some common words. I found it quite interesting. Here is an excerpt and a link:

1. Dunce

Dictionaries don’t play fair, and John Duns Scotus is proof.

The 13th/14th-century thinker, whose writings synthesized Christian theology and Aristotle’s philosophy, was considerably less dumb than a brick. Unfortunately for Scotus, subsequent theologians took a dim view of all those who championed his viewpoint.

These “Scotists,” “Dunsmen,” or “Dunses” were considered hairsplitting meatheads and, eventually, just “dunces.”

2.(slipping a) Mickey

When you have to drug somebody against their will (hey, you gotta do what you gotta do), it just wouldn’t sound right to slip ’em a Ricardo, a Bjorn, or an Evelyn. It’s gotta be a Mickey.

At the turn of the 20th century, Mickey Finn was a Chicago saloon owner in one of the seediest parts of town — and he fit right in.

Finn was known for serving “Mickey Finn Specials,” which probably included chloral hydrate, a heavy sedative. After targeted customers passed out, Finn would haul them into his “operating room” and liberate them of all valuables (including shoes).

Never a Host of the Year candidate, this Mickey seems to have thoroughly earned his legacy, so don’t hesitate to use it the next time you drug and rob your own customers.

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  1. Jack's Shack September 28, 2007 at 6:13 pm


    It is kind of cool.



  2. Anonymous September 27, 2007 at 10:29 pm

    When you give the history of St. Audrey, you mention that she led a “self-abdicating” life. I believe your meant a “self-abnegating” life. She couldn’t abdicate herSELF!!! One usually abdicates POWER (walks away from).

  3. The Misanthrope September 27, 2007 at 4:30 am

    I find this kind of stuff fascinating. I had heard that orgin about Mickey Finn, but had forgotten it.

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