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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2013-12-19 10:57:27

From: Victoria, BC
Registered: 2007-08-28
Posts: 2601

midruff << midriff, spyer << spire, sweetstakes << sweepstakes

Today’s post collects a series of speculations, some of them perhaps wild. Speculation can be more fun than sober analysis.

(1) The midriff is sinking. In Middle English (and earlier) the region of the torso denoted by the word was cenetred around the diaphragm. In later centuries, “midriff” became the area between the chest and the waist. Today “midriff” often calls to mind a part of the torso that includes the region south of the bellybutton and north of the unmentionables. The word “midriff” can also refer to a garment, or part of a garment, that covers the midriff.

The ”-riff” part of the word, from an old AS term for “belly,” does not signify (as Miss Jean Brodie would say) in modern English. Which makes it ripe for replacement. The Database and the Forum have both given a nod to the spelling “midrift.” There are also a large number of sites that spell the word “midriff” as “midruff,” which may be orthographically closer to the way some people pronounce the word. Could the writers on these sites be doing more than phonetic spelling? Could they be thinking of the frilly bands, the ruffs, that decorate the midsection some formal dresses? Or the undulations of the love handles that so many of us develop as we age?

Description of prom dress: “Silky Knit Pleated Dress with Beaded Midruff

Comment on an Okinawan forum: “there was NONE of that midruff showing thigh high stocking”

LA Times article:Midruff bulge afflicting little Tommy or Susie? A study shows that more American children are overweight than ever—and, if you ask them, homework may be to blame.”

Medical BB: “I have heard all that stuff about midruff swelling after menapuse looking like a spare tire.”

(2) “Spire,” the tapering top of something (e.g., grass blade, tree, church, antler), is occasionally changed to “spyer.” Perhaps the thought is that a high point is a good place to spy whatever we are looking for?

Label on a Flickr photo: “Loweth church spyer !”

Comment on a parenting forum: “My dentist actually is in the spyer of the Chrystler”

Flashcard answer: “on the spyer of christ church”

Blog picture label: “In front of the Spyer in Dublin”

(3) “Sweepstakes” is probably a condensed form of “sweep the stakes.” A number of people believe that “sweepstake” is actually spelled/pronounced “sweetstake.” Are they thinking of the pleasure, the sweetness, of a gambling windfall?

Header of a soccer thread: “The ‘When will Gillespie make an appearance on the caf again’ sweetstake

Thread on Facebook page: “I got a facebook message … asking for my info because I won a sweetstake back in November.”

Book synopsis: “A side story has dentist Norman Gale teaming up with pretty hair assistant Jane Grey, who has used her winnings from a sweetstake to indulge a long wanted trip abroad and, in doing so, changes her life forever.”

Phone forum: “A guy named Tony called regarding a sweetstake prize that I won but I did not enter to win. He wanted me to meet him in Concord, CA to claim my prize.”

Last edited by kem (2013-12-19 22:34:20)

Hatching new language, one eggcorn at a time.



#2 2013-12-19 21:32:01

From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2154

Re: midruff << midriff, spyer << spire, sweetstakes << sweepstakes

Also the spelling/eggcornish construal mid drift .
Winning the sweetstakes might also involve the notion of precision or accuracy that shows up in the sweet spot. How sweet it is when you hit the nail right on the thumb.
The spyer makes good sense to me. I picture Paul Revere or someone like that up there with a spyglass, searching the opposite shore.

*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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