Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Daily Hump: Darn!

Today I was wondering; does the lame exclamation darn have anything to do with mending socks? Answer: no.

Darn, in the quasi-curse sense, is an American creation that was said to have originated in Puritanical New England where it was a punishable offense to say the word damn. It's thought that darn was likely influenced by 'tarnal (supposedly a favorite exclamation of Andrew Jackson), which is short for eternal, as in By the Eternal.

Darn, in the mending sense, is likely from the Middle French darner, meaning "to mend." This goes back to the Breton "piece, fragment, part," which ultimately traces back to the Proto-Indo-European root *der-, meaning "tear" (as in "rip"). And *der- also happens to be the root for our word tear, which came to modern English via Proto-Germanic then Old English.

darn [Online Etymology Dictionary]
tear (v) [Online Etymology Dictionary]

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:: posted by David, 8:03 AM


For more information on the origins of swear words in the English language, I recommend Geoffrey Hughes' Encyclopedia of Swearing.
Blogger Loocite, at 10:21 AM  

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