Back to what a tmesis (pronounced tuh-MEE-sis) might be. Well, according to Michael Quinion, who writes the World Wide Words website, it's the stuffing of one word into another, as in the title of this post. The origin of the word is from Ancient Greek, meaning "cutting." Interestingly, in Australia it's also known as a tumbarumba. They often insert the word "bloody" inside two words, as in "abso-bloody-lutely." Wikipedia gives some humorous ways that a tmesis is used in the English language:
- Any-old-how," in which the divisibility of "anything" (as in "any old thing") is mimicked with the usually indivisible "anyhow."
- "A-whole-nother", in which another (an+other) is reanalyzed as a+nother.
- "Legen-wait for it-dary," in which the phrase "wait for it" is inserted into the word "legendary."
The funny thing is that I've heard the phrase "a whole nother" my entire life and didn't even think about the fact that "nother" is not a word or that I had heard somebody make a tmesis!
That's funny, and a good lesson! My mother used to say, "a whole another" because she couldn't stand that nother wasn't a real word. I tend to do this a lot, it's good to know there is an actual term for it!ReplyDelete
I learned some-frackin-new-thing today!ReplyDelete
Wow--that was news to me!ReplyDelete
What a marvelous word!! Tmesis..ReplyDelete
Ya learn something new every day...
Sounds like 'husband-speak' to me. My husband makes up words all the time. The problem is he thinks they are actual words. Drives me insane.ReplyDelete
I'm too tired to come up with one right now. But it sounds fun.ReplyDelete
What do mean "nother" is not a word? We use that all the time here in Minnesota..:)ReplyDelete
This sounds like a great activity for my blog.ReplyDelete
I don't know where this word came from, but whenever I see a creature that is unknown to me I call it an isumpeep....any ideas?
Of course nother is a word. Don't be silly.ReplyDelete
Or maybe I should say, don't be ri-frikkin-diculous.ReplyDelete