Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wednesday WOLF

I'm a nerd. I'm in fact such a big nerd that I tend to look up word origins in my spare time because I'm fascinated by our language. The odder the origin, the better. I've got a collection of random information in my brain that makes me an awesome Trivial Pursuit partner, but is completely useless when it comes to real world application. Like say, job applications.

In any case, I thought I'd share some of this random crap with you in the form of the new acronym-ific series. I give you - Word Origins from Left Field - that's right, the WOLF. Er... ignore the fact that the "from" doesn't fit.

So the other day I referred to someone as my chum. Yeah, it's not a word that gets tossed out there a lot, but I enjoy my oddness and kind of revel in my vocabulary. After that had slipped out, my random brain said, "Hey, wait a minute - isn't that also what you call...."

And yes, it is. So here my friends are two standard definitions of chum:

1. A close friend
2. Chopped fish, fish fluids, and other material thrown overboard as angling bait

Assuming that you would never substitute one for the other, I did a little digging.

The word chum as used in the first instance popped up in the 17th century, as slang for a roommate. It's a clipped form of "chamber mate."

The origin of the second instance (use of dead small fish and fish parts to attract larger fish) is most likely from the use of a specific type of Pacific Northwest salmon called chum Salmon.

But the two are not related at all, alas. I was so hoping for some great story about someone chopping up their roommate and making them sleep with the fishes.

How about it? Got something you want to know more about? Ask me!

6 comments:

Liza Martz & Friends said...

I, too, am a word nerd. "Chum" is an excellent word, I must remember to use it. I love vintage words, like kerfuffle or codswallop. They do such a fine job of saying what they mean or, they did before they went out of style. *sigh*

Mindy McGinnis said...

Codswalloop! I must remember to use that one in conversation today.

I also like saying, "Fiddle dee dee," but none of my kids get that.

TeenLibrarianChristina said...

OMG it would have been so awesome if the two WERE related. Bummer! Thanks for this, I love "chamber mate", I can picture a posh British college student saying that with his veddy snooty accent...

Mindy McGinnis said...

I never know what I'm going to learn when I chase down a word origin!

Matt Sinclair said...

And I've just learned that "codswallop" is not even 55 years old (at least as per Wiktionary).

Erica Eliza said...

So it's like roomie.
My high school English teacher didn't let me use the word churn because the R and N run together in Time New Roman and she hated chum.