Crystal asked about
poppycock, which is defined as nonsense, rubbish, and humbug. The Oxford
English Dictionary hedges a bit,
but it passes along the opinion that it may have come from a Dutch word meaning
excrement from a doll. That, indeed, would be nonsense. Alternatively, the
Dutch word is also translated as soft dung. A related word is poppet, a small
or dainty person, which became a term of endearment. Puppet is also related.
Hidden meanings also
show up on a couple of other words. Partridge, the bird, comes from a Greek
word that meant to fart, probably because of the whirring noise that the bird
makes as it takes off.
Pumpernickel, a dark,
dense bread made in Westphalia, comes from a German word that meant a fart. As
the Oxford English Dictionary
delicately puts it, “This type of bread was probably so called either on
account of its being difficult to digest and causing flatulence or in a more
general allusion to its hardness and poor quality.”
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