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  • Paul Anthony Jones


(n.) a noisy quarrel about politics

female voter casting a vote at a ballot box

Amid 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 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

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