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#1 2009-05-26 23:32:20

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2161

messy, muzzy, mussy, mauzy, misty, mushy

On a blog that I read I found this entry:

Sorry-Have a cold and am too muzzy to blog today.

Muzzy. A good word, I thought, one that I don’t often encounter. “Muzzy” can mean dull, gloomy, drowsy, unfocussed, hazy, imprecise, befuddled. The earliest OED citations for it start in the early 1700s. Muzzy may be derived from an earlier “mosy/mozy/mossy,” a word that means hairy/furry and that is probably related to the noun “moss.”

While I occasionally run across “muzzy,” I don’t think I’ve ever heard or read the word “mosy/mozy” before. The OED confirms that “mosy/mozy” is a British regionalism. But the OED mentions one exception: the word lives on in Eastern Canada, it says, with the spelling “mauzy.” Now that’s a word I’ve heard. “Mauzy” is used in Eastern Canada (and even in the rest of English Canada, which has become home a lot of Easterners since the cod took their leave) to refer to weather that is dreary, foggy, damp. Here, by way of illustration, is a contemporary song called “Mauzy Monday” from a Newfoundland band: http://www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld/06/mauzy.htm

Predictably, some speakers and writers substitute the word “mussy” (as in “mussy hair”) for “muzzy.” If you are feeling disoriented, wonky, it’s as though someone has tousled your brain. Three examples:

Question on a health site “thought i had bad sinus, but was cleared of that but still feel mussy in the head and right side of my face and ear feel tight.”

Post on a post-natal support group “. These past few days I feel mussy headed too. I feel these few days have been my worst yet and I am heading towards the bottom.”

Another health forum question “I have also had headaches and a “mussy” feeling, lack of concentration.”

The phrase “feel mussy” is not always an eggcorn for “feel muzzy,” however. In many of the web examples “feel mussy” replaces “feel mushy.” “Mushy” can mean one of two things: (1) lacking clarity or solidity (as in “mushy brakes”) or (2) sentimental (“a mushy song”). Again, it is easy to see how “mussy” and “mushy” could get confused. Something that is mussed lacks clarity. A sentimental feeling often means that your logical facilities are mussed up.

Examples of replacing “mushy” with “mussy:”

Post in a web fanzine “I’m feeling mussy and sentimental today”

A poster on a country music board explaining why he/she likes a good romance “I’m feeling mussy today”

Car forum “the stainless steel doesnt expand like the rubber hoses do so you get a more solid brake feel, instead of a mussy feeling when you really stomp on them.”

What I’ve left out of this mess is, of course, “messy,” a word that became popular in the late nineteenth century. “Messy” was developed from “mess,” meaning a meal or a dish of food (cf. “mess hall”). I didn’t track down any examples of the substitution of “messy” for “muzzy,” “mussy,” “mauzy” and “mushy,” but it has undoubtedly added to the general confusion. Nor have I done anything in this (already way too long) post with “misty,” another word that has sound and meaning overlaps with “muzzy” and “mushy.”

In short, I think we have another big muzzy/fuzzy spot in the vicinity of the words “messy,” “muzzy,” “mussy,” “mauzy,” “misty,” and “mushy.” Makes you want to brush up on Esperanto, doesn’t it? Still, English, may not be so bad as Arabic. Students who have to learn Arabic sometimes say that every Arabic word has (1) a basic meaning, (2) a second meaning that is its exact opposite, and (3) a type of camel.

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#2 2009-05-27 05:06:57

burred
Eggcornista
From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 955

Re: messy, muzzy, mussy, mauzy, misty, mushy

Is there room in the fuzzy spot for mizzy.

Letter from May Sarton to Julian Huxley, Dec. 26, 1937:
I am sad that you still feel mizzy—I hope you are planning a vacation in the middle of the the winter for surely it must be long-accumulated tiredness
(http://books.google.ca/books?id=0KsBO-K … t&resnum=4)

New Zealand Diet site:
Don’t know what is wrong with me today/yesterday arvo? But feel mizzy (as my mum would say) for no reason?
(http://www.weightwatchers.co.nz/communi … REATEDDESC)

There are some symmetries with other fuzzy words:
muzzy fuzzy
mauzy gauzy
mizzy dizzy
faze hazy dazy
maze mazed

Web marketing and sales:
Otherwise, your customers will feel mazed without a straight answer from you and they will contact you by telephone next time they will encounter a problem.
(http://www.bizarnet.ro/web_design/marketing_en.asp)

Religious teachings for unbelievers:
The truth, which you feel mazed
Will be only known when faced,
(http://equalsoft.in/islam/web/sfSimpleF … 09ae9b1382)

Web profile:
I don’t like Reading big books make me feel dazy
(http://www.bebo.com/Profile.jsp?MemberId=2717880991)

A trip through Yorkshire, 1866:
“Fits! How often?”
“Abate once a week. I had one abate this time th’ last week.”
We felt rather uneasy, but asked him if he got any warning when they were approaching.
“I get mazy-loike i’ my yed.” [I get mazy-like in my head.]
“Do you feel mazy now?”
(http://books.google.ca/books?id=InI8cAh … t&resnum=2)

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#3 2009-05-27 06:14:28

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

Re: messy, muzzy, mussy, mauzy, misty, mushy

I liked the OED’s usage note on “mazed”:

Now chiefly literary and regional (Brit., Irish English, and U.S.).

I presume they mean that it’s in use in various regions of the UK, Ireland and US. If it’s in wide use in those 3 places, I wouldn’t call it a regionalism.

Their note on “mazy” was a bit more surprising to me:

1. That is in a state of bewilderment or perplexity; giddy, dizzy, confused. Now Eng. regional.

I (a native Calfornian, who’s rarely been out of the state) use “mazy” in this regional, English way; it’s never seemed odd to me—and I don’t think anyone’s ever commented on it.

Last edited by patschwieterman (2009-05-27 06:15:02)

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#4 2009-05-27 13:44:48

burred
Eggcornista
From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 955

Re: messy, muzzy, mussy, mauzy, misty, mushy

Though I can see their logic, I don’t think I’ve encountered “mazed” or “mazy” before, nor “mose/mosy/mozy”, “mizzy” or “mauzy”.

On the other hand, sleeping on it allowed my brain to bring up an association, that looks like it might be more than just fuzzy, of some of the words in the bunch, to the French word maussade. This adjective can apply to both weather and personality. It means “sullen, glum, morose, gloomy”. It bears some resemblance to mosy/mozy and mauzy/mauzey/mawsy/mawzy/mausy. The resemblance might be only passing, however. Maussade comes from mal sade, or bad tasting (link).

Last edited by burred (2009-05-27 13:58:35)

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#5 2009-05-27 16:39:02

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2161

Re: messy, muzzy, mussy, mauzy, misty, mushy

I’d vote for adding “mazy/mazed” to the list. Fits well.

Is there room in the fuzzy spot for mizzy.

Not sure what to make of the adjective “mizzy.” It would be easy to write off the word as a simple error, but “feel/feels/feeling mizzy” occurs frequently enough on the web to make one think that “mizzy” has some kind of independent existence, even though it has not made it into the dictionary (at least not into any of the standard ones that I have access to).

That reminds me: we should add “mizly/mizzly” to the list. “Musty” might also qualify. And “marshy.”

“Fuzzy,” “gauzy,” “dizzy,” “dazy” have small sound overlap with this Big Fuzzy Spot but large meaning overlap. Just as “masty,” “massy,” “mashy,” “meshy,” “mesely,” “mousey,” “measely,” “measly,” “miserly,” and “musky” have maximal sound overlap and little meaning overlap.

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#6 2009-05-27 17:30:44

burred
Eggcornista
From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 955

Re: messy, muzzy, mussy, mauzy, misty, mushy

Mizzly – I’d never heard of that one, nice and west-coasty. Also, misly as an adjective, from the noun misle, and the verb, to misle.

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#7 2009-05-28 05:15:56

kem
Eggcornista
From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2161

Re: messy, muzzy, mussy, mauzy, misty, mushy

I presume they mean that it’s in use in various regions of the UK, Ireland and US. If it’s in wide use in those 3 places, I wouldn’t call it a regionalism.

If it’s not used in India, it’s probably an English regionalism. In the next twelve months India will officially become the country with the largest English-speaking population.

Wish we had a resident of India on this forum. Must be gazillions of Anglicized Urdu and Urduized English words that are eggcorns.

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#8 2009-05-28 05:23:29

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

Re: messy, muzzy, mussy, mauzy, misty, mushy

I didn’t know mizzle/mizzly, but the OED lists it, giving the first citation as Caxton back in 1490. They consider it colloquial and regional in both Britain and NAm. A British weather website has a rather elaborate discussion of the word:

Mizzle is a term used in Devon and Cornwall for a combination of fine drenching drizzle or extremely fine rain and thick, heavy saturating mist or fog. While floating or falling the visible particles of coarse, watery vapor might approach the form of light rain. Mizzle is especially thick in upland areas, like its Scottish Highlands counterpart Scotch Mist, and it is particulary associated with a moist tropical maritime airstream.

Mizzle is known for being capable of soaking you in a matter of minutes and the feeling is best described as if one would stand under a Fire Brigade fine nozzle. The word itself derived from the Frisian mizzelen meaning – what a surprise – drizzle. However, a day with mizzle is usually characterised by dull and depressing weather and some sort of permanent twilight, or ‘dimpsey’ as another good old west country word puts it.
http://www.weatheronline.co.uk/reports/ … Mizzle.htm

Didn’t know “dimps/dimpsy,” either—the OED gives “dusk, twilight” for “dimps,” and “dusky” for “dimpsy.”

Burred, how did you mean “west-coasty”? My guess is you’re thinking of the misty coasts of BC; your comment caught me off-guard because I usually think of terms like “sun-dazzled” or “drought” or “pot smoke” in connection with “West Coast”—but I think only the last term would apply all up and down this edge of the continent.

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#9 2009-05-28 10:49:56

Peter Forster
Eggcornista
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 827

Re: messy, muzzy, mussy, mauzy, misty, mushy

On the ‘maze’ front, I should mention the Northumbrian noun mazer which refers either to a thing of wonder, or an eccentric person.

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#10 2009-05-28 13:53:38

DavidTuggy
Eggcornista
From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-12
Posts: 1796
Website

Re: messy, muzzy, mussy, mauzy, misty, mushy

West-coasty, like mizzly may or may not be, is the blend drismal , which I was told was from the SF Bay area.


*If the human mind were simple enough for us to understand,
we would be too simple-minded to understand it* .

(Possible Corollary: it is, and we are .)

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#11 2009-05-28 18:16:38

burred
Eggcornista
From: Montreal
Registered: 2008-03-17
Posts: 955

Re: messy, muzzy, mussy, mauzy, misty, mushy

Good point, Pat, maybe “wet-coasty” would have been, er, clearer.

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