Monday, December 10, 2012


Meaning: inserting a word into the middle of another word (e.g. abso-bloody-lutely, a-bloody-mazing). Wikipedia also discusses its technical application to classical languages and phrases.

Usefulness: 1 (Apparently this is an Australian tendency - I had trouble thinking of an example that didn't involve swearing, but am relieved to have a name for it.)

Logofascination: 1 (Besides being a handy Scrabble word, the source is fascinating. Tmesis turns up in the text of an unpublished epigram of Sir Thomas' - see below - discovered thanks to a terribly interesting and useful MetaFilter thread.* It's quite reassuring to discover that I'm not the only one so logofascinated.)

In the wild: It seems John O'Grady was also interested in tmesis. Apparently tumbarumba is a synonym, possibly due to a poem called "Tumba Bloody Rumba", which I recommend reading.

Degrees: 1

Connections: n/a

Used in: unless you have access to JSTOR**, you'll just have to trust me that tmesis is in an epigram quoted in an article called "Sir Thomas Urquhart's "Apollo and The Muses"" by Roger Craik. I'd heard of Sir Thomas' unpublished epigrams, but hadn't thought of looking for references to them in JSTOR (more homework). One included in the article is this:
a debording youth heer by a double tmesis, discovereth his desyre to his mistris 
Prickalto being a place of small account:
Least of this quatrain we the sense should smother,
of this first line thereof: though it seem blunt,
take you one end, and I shal snatch the other
The first line of the poem (using the term very loosely) is the first tmesis; if you make a rude word (phrase?) out of the beginning and end of the line, you've got the idea. The second tmesis is Sir Thomas stretching the image rather; I think it revolves around insertions.  Debording is going out of bounds, and has its own post will be getting its own post some time - it turns up elsewhere in his writing.

It's rather frustrating knowing that there is an entire text by Sir Thomas out there that I can't (currently) get to; apparently it also includes a lexicidion and any number of new words. It seems to have only been assessed for its limited poetic merit and signs of Rabelaisian tendencies, rather than for the lexical delights it no doubt contains. I may need to start pestering making enquiries to Yale about it.

*Although it had the excellent taste to mention this blog, it has generated homework; I'll have to update the About Sir Thomas... page.
** What would I do without the SLV

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