Nonce words

moodywop

Banned
Italian - Italy
I am intrigued by the use of nonce words, which may well be more common in English than in other languages(there is no equivalent for nonce word in Italian).

I have found several examples of nonce words that never made it past the original context in which they were used, like Anthony Burgess's finneganswaked. The only example I have found of a nonce-word which has made it into dictionaries is Lewis Carroll's frabjous.

Could you provide more examples of former nonce words that have been assimilated into the language?
 
  • panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Ah, but doesn't every neologism begin life as a nonce-word?
    Once it gets past the nonce and becomes accepted into the language, it is no longer a nonce-word.
     

    moodywop

    Banned
    Italian - Italy
    Charles Costante said:
    Carlo, this link provides a few listed in the Oxford Dictionary.
    http://wso.williams.edu/~jkossuth/work/nonce.html

    Thank you, Charles. You're a living search engine:)

    panjandrum said:
    Ah, but doesn't every neologism begin life as a nonce-word?

    Technically that's true. However don't you think that what marks off a new word as a former nonce-word(compared to a run-of-the-mill neologism serving a practical purpose) is its eccentricity and its display of playful linguistic inventiveness?
     

    shamblesuk

    Senior Member
    England, English
    If a nonce word is what I think then 'shag' (to have sex) was first used in A Clockwork Orange and has now been assimilated into English.

    Also a nonce (noun) is a phrase in BE that means, erm, a man engaged in illegal activities with a minor, so I would be careful with it's use over here.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    moodywop said:
    Technically that's true. However don't you think that what marks off a new word as a former nonce-word(compared to a run-of-the-mill neologism serving a practical purpose) is its eccentricity and its display of playful linguistic inventiveness?
    I agree with you, but there are some days when I find the temptation to be a smart-arse irresistible:D

    Add that to the fact that I can't for the life of me think of any really cool examples of surviving nonce-words and you have the reason for my last post:p
     

    Eugens

    Senior Member
    Argentina Spanish
    Here are some more nonce words.
    I like "quidnunckery" ([quid nunc, what now] curiosity, love of news or gossip) and "logopandocie" (a readiness to admit words of all kinds) :) But I don't think they have been assimilated into the language, it says they are obscure.

    I've also read there that "quark" was a nonce work in James Joyce's Finnegans Wake: "Murray Gell-Mann, the physicist who proposed this name for these particles, said in a private letter of June 27, 1978, to the editor of the Oxford English Dictionary that he had been influenced by Joyce's words: “The allusion to three quarks seemed perfect”
     

    timpeac

    Senior Member
    English (England)
    shamblesuk said:
    Also a nonce (noun) is a phrase in BE that means, erm, a man engaged in illegal activities with a minor, so I would be careful with it's use over here.

    Yes - before reading the thread that is what I thought it was talking about!!
     

    cuchuflete

    Senior Member
    EEUU-inglés
    timpeac said:
    Yes - before reading the thread that is what I thought it was talking about!!

    So, shall we apply a nonce word to this situation?

    Snafu

    This old favorite began it's trajectory towards quasi-respectability when some World War II military
    type used it as an abbreviation for...

    Situation
    Normal
    All
    F
    **ked
    Up

    I can't prove it, but I suspect that balderdash was a nonce word about 400 years ago.
     

    Brioche

    Senior Member
    Australia English
    shamblesuk said:
    If a nonce word is what I think then 'shag' (to have sex) was first used in A Clockwork Orange and has now been assimilated into English.

    According to the Online Etymological Dictionary
    http://www.etymonline.com

    Shag has had the meaning "sexual intercourse" since 1788,
    and gang-shag, meaning several males having sex with one female, was used in 1927.

    The book "A Clockwork Orange" was written in 1962, and film was made in 1971.
     

    maxiogee

    Banned
    English
    cuchuflete said:
    I can't prove it, but I suspect that balderdash was a nonce word about 400 years ago.

    Wouldn't it be nice to create an etymology for "balderdash" in which it was posited that it was a transmogrification of verbaldash (akin to pebbledash) words being flung at random at someone?
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    Verbal "dash" would conjure images of debris and compost for me, compost of a lively sort-- stirred up and flung at random, flying about dangerously as things verbal tend to do when in a state of excitement.

    The term refers to matter flung backwards from the hooves of horses, a byproduct of the extra traction they have to purchase when pulling conveyances-- the stuff flies backwards and spatters as the horses, well, go dashing forward.

    I wouldn't doubt dashboards were added to drays and open wagons when they began to be built for speed.

    Not sure how this applies to "verbal" dash, which is to say balderdash. Echoic terms like that incorporate gritty root words in a fanciful way, and this would be a great example.

    Speaking of horses "flying" along at great speed, it occurs to me that an AE synonym for balderdash is horsefeathers. My dyslexic ear also picks up a sense of the kind of dogdander that can be kept from being broadcast by the judicious application of hogwash. Keeps the microscopic mites down, and the nonce-sense at modicum levels.

    And to think I've thought for years that they should have been called splash boards all along.
    .
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Hey c'mon, you can't bandy words like balderdash, etymology and 400 years ago without attracting attention sooner or later:D

    Balderdash has indeed been around for almost that long with the current meaning (OED first example is 1674). Slightly earlier, it was a mixed drink such as milk/beer, beer/wine, brandy/soda.

    The etymology is uncertain, which would be a grave disappointment had the OED not thought to include several of the possibilities including:
    The Welsh baldorddus adj., f. baldordd ‘idle noisy talk, chatter,’ has also been adduced. Malone conjectured a reference to ‘the froth and foam made by barbers in dashing their balls backward and forward in hot water.’
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Welcome to these forums, emiranda:)

    Another possible origin is balductum, which meant trash, balderdash or trashy/rubbishy in 1577.
    HOLINSHED Chron. II. 29/2 The Irish doubtlesse repose a great affiance in this balducktum dreame.

    Balductum began as hot milk curdled with wine or ale even earlier than that - a 1450 example is given.

    So, to return to the dim memory of the topic of the thread, balderdash is not really a nonce-word as there are several alternative suggestions for its etymology that are simple evolution of the language, not deliberate invention.
     

    T.D-K

    Senior Member
    Cymraeg Cymru
    re: origin of Balderdash from

    http://www.worldwidewords.org/weirdwords/ww-bal1.htm

    It’s a pity that such a fine word should come of unknown stock, but we really don’t have a clear idea where it comes from. Some argue its origin lies in the Welsh baldorddus, idle noisy talk or chatter (though that is pronounced very differently), while others point to related words in Dutch, Icelandic and Norwegian, such as the Dutch balderen, to roar or thunder. It appears around the time of Shakespeare with the meaning of froth or frothy liquid, or a jumbled mixture of liquids, such as milk and beer, or beer and wine. Only in the latter part of the seventeenth century did it move towards its modern meaning, through the idea of speech or writing that is a senseless jumble, hence nonsense or trash.

    Hope this helps.

    Tim
     

    foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    All this talk about jumbling and curdling reminds me that the moving part of a dairy churn, the part that does all the agitating that separates flakes of butterfat from the buttermilk-- is called the dash.

    Scant help in pinning down the origins of balderdash, but possibly a hint-- given that words tend to arise from the names of things people are familiar with. Not many postmodern people are conversant with these outmoded things any more, and I'm sure that's the source of much of our ignorance about word origins.
    .
     
    Top