I was reading Heinlein’s “Starship Troopers” for the 36th time (it’s possible I’ve read that book more times… it’s just a really entertaining, very fast read), when I came across a chapter that brought me to this week’s etymological epiphany.
When one is referred to as a “pussy” (i.e. “don’t be a pussy”, or “you’re being a pussy”) with reference to their innate cowardice, the subject of this insult is not actually being compared to female genitalia. The modern usage of the word certainly implies a comparison to moist chick-flesh, but no, the origins of this are much less graphic. The reference is to the term “pusillanimous”, which is defined by Google as “lacking in courage and manly strength and resolution; contemptibly fearful”. Makes sense now, doesn’t it?
For my next trick, I’ll be coining two new phrases. Let it be known that the following terms shall now be considered “in circulation”, and that their origins are from South Florida, namely, me. These terms are “the way forward” and “bold.”
“The way forward” should be used when indicating that something is positive, or has a positive connotation. For example, “brushing your teeth with an electric toothbrush is the way forward” and “big knobby tires on a Volkswagen are the way forward.”
“Bold” is similar in use, in some ways replacing the word “cool” or perhaps even “awesome.” Usage is very flexible: “That’s bold.” or “That guy did what? Man, that’s just bold.” Additional uses include adverbial applications, such as “That’s bold shooting.” Also, negative connotation can be achieved by adding “not” to it; i.e. “That situation is not-bold.” or “The President’s policy is not-bold.”
And that’s my contribution to the English language for the week (indeed, with so much to work with, it may be a month before I further the language again!) Again, these terms are not exceptionally new – they have become ingrained in regular use among South Floridians… and now you know the source.