Tuesday, March 27, 2007

The Daily Hump: Chortle

Yesterday, my friend CH and I were reminiscing of when we used to work together and our boss at the time, a very petite woman, put on an inordinate amount of weight--so much so that her laugh (but not her voice) went from a sort of cackle to a full-on chortle.

Chortle has two interesting qualities; first, it's one of those rare words whose origin can be traced back to a single person, in this case, Lewis Carroll. Second, the word is a portmanteau, which is itself another Carroll creation meaning, as Humpty Dumpty describes in Through the Looking Glass, "two meanings packed up into one word." In the case of chortle the combined meanings are chuckle and snort:
'And hast thou slain the Jabberwock?
Come to my arms, my beamish boy!
O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!'
He chortled in his joy.
But when I imagine chortling it's not Jabberwocky I think of, but rather another monster whose name begins with Jabb-. No, not this one. This one..

chortle [Online Etymology Dictionary]
chortle [AHD]
Jabberwocky [Wikipedia]


:: posted by David, 8:01 AM


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