I have a Christmas present for all my fellow wordsmiths, language purists and professional procrastinators! It’s a link to Michael Quinion’s website Worldwide Words which is a veritable cornucopia of fascinating words and their etymology. Now I’ve found this site, I may never meet a deadline again! It all started when I wanted to know the origins of the word ‘hunkydory’, which means ‘great’. Although there is no real evidence for any of the explanations, they are in themselves fascinating. One thing seems to be certain and that’s that the ‘hunk’ part of the word comes from the Dutch word ‘honk’, meaning home or goal as anyone who has ever played or watched honkbal will know.
Other gems to be found in the 3,000 or so entries in the index on the website are Able Whackets, Sling the Monkey, High Cockalorum – all rough games played on board ship (the mind boggles!), cackhanded, meaning clumsy or inept and cream-crackered (Cockney rhyming slang for knackered meaning completely tired out). In the sixteenth century, a ‘knacker’ was a saddler or harness maker. Later, the name was used for someone who bought old or worn-out horses to slaughter them for meat.
So bookmark the link and enjoy!