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  • Paul Anthony Jones


Amidst all of this week’s politicking, over on Twitter we reposted one of our personal favourite HH words: whipmegmorum, defined as “a noisy quarrel about politics”.

If you caught our YouTube instalment on political words last year—or voted in the 2016 HH Word of the Year poll—you might know this one already. If you didn’t, here’s a recap.

Whipmegmorum is an old Scots dialect word dating from the mid seventeenth century. It’s thought to have started out as the name of a Scottish folk dance or folk tune, but etymologically its fairly fanciful spelling likely puts it in the same category as the likes of oo-de-lally, hey-nonny-nonny and fol-de-rol-de-rol as little more than a nonsense string of filler syllables used as the refrain of a song.

The earliest record we have of a whipmegmorum comes from an old Scots broadside, The Life and Death of Habbie Simpson, written in the mid-1600s. That song didn’t have much of a political or satirical angle, but around a century later its refrain gained one, thanks to (probably intentional) confusion with the name of the ruling British Whig party.

And from there, a new word for a noisy political argument was born.

#politics #Scots