mishmash » mixmash

Variant(s):  mix-mash, mix(-)mosh

Classification: English

Spotted in the wild:

  • At first, students and teachers may miss the units and projects, long source themes, outlines, How-to books, word games, and all the empurpled mix-mash we have fallen heir to. (Floyd Rinker, "Priorities in the English Curriculum," English Journal Vol. 51, No. 5 (May 1962), p. 312)
  • ‘Photography in the Fine Arts’ was a distressing mixmash. (Ansel Adams, Oct. 14, 1962 letter, Ansel Adams: Letters, 1916-1984 (2001), p. 295)
  • I’ll let you deal with figuring the convention out as I use a number of custom widgets subclassed from ’stock’ Gtk and so you’ll see a mixmash of classic Gtk and your skin. (Postfish README file, Xiph.Org, 2005)
  • You will see a mixmash of different styles and layouts, some good, some bad, but thumbing through so many varied examples should give you plenty of ideas for possible designs and layouts for your own poster. (Kalev H. Leetaru, "A Speaker's Guide to Painless and Successful Public Speaking," Mar. 24, 2008, p. 24)
  • Oh sorry, it is all in English. I don’t divide the two languages sometimes. In our house it is a mixmash of English and German! (Netty, Language Log comment, Jan. 26, 2009)
  • “It was a mixmosh of people — it wasn’t just black and white — and everybody’s got their cultures. Everybody’s got their music and their religion, and you just throw that into the pot and stir it up,” Salgado continues. “That’s why the blues is what it is: because America was a hybrid melting pot of all these cultures.” (Bay Weekly, May 16-22, 2002)
  • A mixmosh of various types of audio created using recording programs. (Crunkcore Records)

Analyzed or reported by:

  • Arnold Zwicky (ADS-L, Jan. 26, 2009)

Mixmash takes the reduplicative first syllable of mishmash and transforms it into the semantically transparent mix. In fact, the linkage between mix and mash goes back etymologically all the way to the Indo-European root *meik-. The reduplication of mash into mishmash has also been paralleled by forms with mix, such as the variants mixty-maxty, mixter-maxter, and mixie-maxie from Scotland/N. England.

More recently, mixing and mashing have become allied concepts in the world of musical production (mix-master, mash-up, etc.). So it’s not surprising that mixmash often appears as an intentional lexical mash-up in contexts relating to music and technology, e.g. Mix Mash Records or MixMash VJ services. Such intentional uses may lead to an acceptance of mixmash as a variant of mishmash in relevant fields — as in the 2005 example above, from the README file for Postfish (”a digital audio post-processing, restoration, filtering and mixdown tool”).

Meanwhile, the variant mix(-)mosh suggests two additional contributing factors: the Yiddish-influenced pronunciation of mishmash as [mɪʃmɑʃ] (often spelled mishmosh) rather than [mɪʃmæʃ], and the newer sense of mosh to describe slam-dancing (mosh pit, etc.).

| link | entered by Ben Zimmer, 2009/01/26 |

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