Friday, January 05, 2007

Hump This: Sham

First, a big shoutout (one word? two words? hyphenated?) to Katy Oliver's mom who is an avowed WordHumping fan. Mrs. O, I'd love to send you a copy of my book All I Really Need to Know About Humping I Learned in Kindergarten but I haven't written it yet.

Second, a big dis to I was on your site at 8:55 this morning waiting for 9AM when the Arcade Fire tickets were to go on sale. I refreshed my browser tirelessly figuring I could score just 2 tickets to one of the 5 shows the AF were playing. Ten minutes later all the shows were sold out. You can't tell me that all these NYU brats/hipsters were up at 9AM buying tickets. I don't buy it. Thus, I dis you.

Now on to the humpage--

Hump This is a (quasi-)weekly Friday feature where you, the WordHumper reader, choose which lucky word gets humped back to the stoneage (or at least to Proto-Indo-Europa). Today's word comes from AM in Brooklyn who asks:
What's up with sham? Bed shams, pillow shams, and Sham the thoroughbred who placed second to Secretariat in the 1973 Kentucky Derby. That horse was a sham! I lost big money!
Calm down, Esse! The AHD gives one definition of sham as "A decorative cover made to simulate an article of household linen and used over or in place of it." This sense of "simulation" is what connects say pillow sham to the sham which defines a state of deceitfulness and fakery.

Sham, which first appears as slang (in both noun and verb forms) around 1677, quickly came into frequent use. The word is of curious origin. Both the AHD and the Online Etymology Dictionary suggest sham is a northern dialectal form of shame. The OED disputes this idea, however, noting that although this theory is plausible "the alleged origin does not seem to account satisfactorily for the sense in the early examples."

If you have a word you'd like humped please email it, along with your location, to wordhumper.

UPDATE: I guess I won't be getting AF tix anytime soon. (Thanks for the link, A)


:: posted by David, 8:41 AM


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