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Chris -- 2018-04-11

#1 2020-05-08 10:52:28

From: Mexico
Registered: 2007-10-11
Posts: 2390

sourly < surly

Sometimes sourly shows up where I would have expected surly . E.g.

“Are you ready, Cooney?” The American seaman gave a sourly look and nodded but Blake grabbed his arm.

I just ordered this entree with Chow Mein and paid a premium price for 5 shrimp and 2 snow peas and a sourly attitude

Unfortunately, his greedy impetus, unskilful playing and sourly behaviour, earn him the ‘reward’ of bruises from the affronted spirits.

money is tight.” And with a sourly look, she dared her husband to say otherwise.

it was shocking to experience the poor service and sourly attitude of the flight crew on the washington bound flight from Rome in July

I have found over the years that you can have amazing food but bad and sourly attitude of servers can leave a sour taste, not so here.

Sourly makes enough sense in most of these contexts that one might think it is being formed and used independently. The word may well be established for some of these speakers. (It doesn’t feel like it is for me, but of course one’s own feelings on such matters are not very reliable.) It is also of course true that sourness, sour feelings and the natural expression of them overlap greatly with what we mean by surliness, which is why sourly fits so well in the same contexts. ( Surly is definied by at least one dictionary as “bad-tempered and unfriendly”; I get notions of uppitiness, and sometimes of snarling in it. Snarling , perhaps relevantly, shares the gnarly V-rl-v sound pattern of surly and sourly .)
I did not know the etymology of surly , so I thought conceivably it actually came from sour . It seems it comes instead from sir , and surly behavior was originally lordly, haughty or arrogant behavior. Fits with the “uppity” idea.
I think it probable that some at least have read surly over the years, and have come to think that the word is related to or comes from sour . Perhaps they have thought it was an omission typo for sourly or something of the sort, but in any case they think of sour , and so they spell, and perhaps pronounce, the word to match . This reasonable (but wrong) etymological guess would be an eggcorn, by my lights.

Last edited by DavidTuggy (2020-05-13 07:25:41)

*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 .)



#2 2020-05-11 07:11:49

Peter Forster
From: UK
Registered: 2006-09-06
Posts: 1067

Re: sourly < surly

I too would have guessed ‘sour’ as a likelier source than ‘sir’ and I’m surprised one of us hasn’t stumbled across it before now. In short: nice find. Here’s a few sirly variants but with u and i sitting adjacent on the keyboard, they’re probably just typos. The first example, though, may suggest another rabbit hole altogether…

In “Far From Home” his is more of a sirly, teacher type.

Staff also need a refurb as some (not all) had a sirly manner and were unhelpful.

He was back to his sirly self, teasing you and making your feel like a fool.



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