Saturday, January 23, 2010

Tizzy, not just in a

Talking Points Memo ran this headline yesterday:

What All the "Tizzy" Is About

It struck me as slightly odd, given that for me at least the only real collocation of tizzy is in a tizzy, and the quotation marks probably aim to convey that.

But I just knew this was going to be one of those "origins unknown/uncertain" words and sure enough, neither Merriam-Webster nor OED Online offer any speculation. It's recent, attested only back to 1935 according to both. (I wonder if it's older as a name or nickname and comes from there?)

But the surprise was seeing that it's used as a plural, the tizzies. MW gives a plural form, and OED has an example in the plural. So now I'm wondering if this is part of the pattern discussed here, including a broad set of disease-like plural-looking forms compiled by Ben Zimmer, such as "the glooms", "the slows" or "the uglies". That is, the extension to a plural form kind of fits a broader pattern in English.

Also a good band name.

PS: Great word play in the Onion obits this week: "Persey Hallman, 61, passed away this weekend in his sleep. He was a family man and a secret-family man."

4 comments:

outerhoard said...

For a particularly memorable use of the phrase "off in a tizzy", try the 1987 short story _Love Bytes_ by Nicholas Fisk, from the junior science fiction anthology _Twisted Circuits_ by Mick Gowar.

I haven't read it in years, but as soon as I saw you talking about tizzies, that's what I thought of.

becksutch said...

Hi,
I'm doing a project on slang words and wanted to quote some of your work on the word 'tizzy'.
I'm using a Harvard Referencing system and was wondering what info you'd like me to include to reference you. Your ideas have been really helpful.

Many thanks

Mr. Verb said...

Thanks for asking. I think just the blog and the URL would be enough ... people can find it easily.

becksutch said...

Perfect, thank you very much :)