Poppy show (puppet show, puppy show?)


Senior Member
Standard Jamaican English (Caribbean)
Poppy show is used here to mean a buffoon/ someone who likes showing off. It's an alteration of the word puppet show. Its usage has spread to other parts of the Caribbean, and it's commonly seen spelt as pappy show or papishow. It is also used as a standard verb. According to the dictionary pappy show is a twentieth-century alteration from the Scottish dialect, pappy show (puppy show) which was an alteration of puppet show. While I can imagine a puppy showing off its suit, beauty etc at a dog show, I don't see it linked to the work a puppeteer does. How did puppy show come from puppet show to poppy show with an overlapping meaning of both a pup who shows off and a puppet?
  • ewie

    Senior Member
    English English
    (I'm not sure I understand your question, Sasha :confused: )

    According to the full OED, the words puppet, puppy/pup and poppet all come from the same original, which meant "A small or dainty person. In later use frequently as a term of endearment, esp. for a child or young woman: darling, pet."
    It then went on ~ understandably ~ to mean both '(child's) doll' and 'lapdog'. It's only one short step from there to modern-day puppet and puppy.
    In short, they're a bit of a swirling confused mass of intertwined terms:D


    Senior Member
    English, U.S.
    Those variations may be due to something called "folk etymology"—
    replacing an unfamiliar word (or part of a word) with a familiar one that is similar in sound.
    An often-cited example is "sparrow grass", as a possible re-formation of "asparagus".
    The meanings of "grass" and "asparagus" are linked because both are plants,
    while "sparrow" is there only for its sound, not for any link with its meaning.
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