Sunday, September 21, 2008


Allen writes, “While I was watching the Ryder Cup this weekend, I heard the word dormy. I’m not a golfer, so I’m not quite sure what it means.

In golf match play, dormy (also spelled dormie) means being ahead by as many holes as remain to be played. The point is that if you halve the upcoming hole, you will win the match. And even if you lose all the remaining holes, the worst that will happen will be a tie.

The American Heritage Dictionary lists the origin as unknown. The Oxford English Dictionary offers nothing, either. However, a Rollyo search referencing the AHD also sends the reader to dormouse, and it’s recorded that a Scottish dialect turned that into dormie. That rodent (family Gliridae) was found on golf courses in Scotland, and its name comes from a word that meant to sleep in several related languages. The dormouse is a hibernating animal. Could it mean that a dormy team had the match so locked up that they could practically go to sleep?

Here’s one where I could use some help, readers. Please send documentation, and it shouldn’t be krap from Wikipedia.

SIDEBAR: dormie from [thanks to Brent Kelley]
USGA on dormie

Now available from McFarland & Co.: Word Parts Dictionary, 2nd edition

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