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Chris -- 2015-05-30

#1 2008-08-12 16:08:43

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2578

pestimist << pessimist

This eggcorn is courtesy of Finn, my five year old grandson. Today he and I were walking along a forest trail and talking about the difference between optimists and pessimists. We compared the attitude of optimists and pessimists toward the Himalayan blackberries that thrive on Vancouver Island. When the endmost clump of drupelets turn blue-black at the beginning of August, locals start sampling the berries to see if they are ripe. Some blue-black berries are already sweet, but some are still sour, even though they look ripe. The optimist says “It is the right color-I think it must be sweet.” The pessimist says “It’s the right color, but it’s still early so it must be sour.”

Finn asks me what I am, an optimist or a pessimist. I say that I am usually more of a pessimist than an optimist. He considers this, then says “I’m more of a pestimist!”

Ah, think I, that’s a good one. I’ll bet other people hear the word “pest” in pessimist. So I checked the web when we got home from our walk, and, sure enough, I found multiple hits (>1K ghits) for “pestimist.” Samples:

Forum for Tampa Bay Bucks: “I say it’s better to sound like a homer than some of these pestimists around here.” ( … 97540.html)

Post in a forum to discuss song lyrics: “This song is about hating life, because of your own life. The internal struggle to have self-worth and all one can think about is the past and they become a pestimist.” (

Software forum: “Another question: Is the glass half empty or half full? The optimist will say it is half full. The pestimist will say it is half empty.” ( … falls.html)

If there is any doubt that people are parsing the word “pest” out of “pestimist,” here is a direct testimony: … amination/ This testimony was elicited by Neal Whitman, the author of a linguistics blog, during a search for examples of the “contamination” of one word by another.

Contaminations. That’s a pestimistic way of looking at eggcorns.

Last edited by kem (2008-08-12 20:48:14)

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



#2 2008-08-12 17:14:33

From: Colorado
Registered: 2007-09-05
Posts: 285

Re: pestimist << pessimist

Our very own TootsNYC has commented on the site reached by the link above. (Just read down to the comments following the posting/article.) In addition, the Eggcorn Database (but not our beloved forum) is referenced in the comments.

Last edited by JonW719 (2008-08-12 17:16:48)

Feeling quite combobulated.



#3 2008-08-12 18:22:45

From: California
Registered: 2005-10-25
Posts: 1665

Re: pestimist << pessimist

Whitman has commented on discussions on the forum itself in other posts. And it’s a fun linguistics blog to follow in any case.



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