Saturday, April 14, 2007


Don Imus: Aptronym?

Andrew MacGillivray writes in an email:
For speakers of British English, nappy is, or least used to be, also ‘strong ale, beer’ ( the etymology seems to be 'fuzzy' > 'cloudy' or 'frothy' liquid), as in John Clare's 'And while I have sixpence left, I'll spend it In cheering nappy' and the opening lines of Burns' Tam O Shanter:
When chapman billies leave the street,
And drouthy neebors neebors meet,
As market-days are wearin' late,
An' folk begin to tak' the gate;
While we sit bousin' at the nappy,
An' gettin' fou an' unco happy,
We think na on the lang Scots miles,
The mosses, waters, slaps, an' stiles,
That lie between us an' our hame,
Whare sits our sulky, sullen dame,
Gath'rin' her brows like gath'rin' storm,
Nursin' her wrath to keep it warm.
So nappy-headed, in the context of Don Imus, would suggest a kind of befuddled alcoholic ranting (perhaps with a bit of foaming at the mouth). But I wonder if anyone called Don Imus needs much context? With a little Spanish and Latin, doesn’t the name tell all – Don Nadir, Mr. Lowest-of-the-Low, Mr. Plumb-the-Depths?
Spanish don means "sir, mister"; Latin imus (superlative of inferus) means "lowest".

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