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Toponyms are place names, but for purposes of this work we are interested in place names that have become independent words. Numerous place-name words are simply used to denote kinds of wine, cheese or cloth (champagne, madeira, cheddar, calico), so we'll ignore those overflowing categories.

This week we'll look at toponyms from the British Isles. (I had hoped to do "Toponyms from Great Britain", but couldn't find quite enough and was forced to cross over the water to include Ireland. Unless anyone can provide another from Great Britain?)

bedlam – a scene of mass, mad uproar and confusion
[from colloquial pronunciation of London’s "Hospital of Saint Mary of Bethlehem", used as a lunatic asylum]
    Lebanese analysts say the possibility of the prime minister’s governing partners being accused by an international court of assassinating his father, the country’s former leader, has created a state of a political instability and bedlam.
    -- Jerusalem Post, Aug. 4, 2010
 
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brummagem – being a cheap and showy imitation or sham
[Negatively using the name of the city of Birmingham, England. Some say the reference arose from the counterfeit coins made there in the 17th century. Over the centuries there are well over a hundred documented versions of the city name, and Brumagen is one of them.]
    I find people's attitude toward their stuff far more interesting than practically anything. My parents, for instance, considered themselves to be unmaterialistic … . But both of them were, in fact, obsessed with their material possessions, investing them with moral righteousness: no synthetics, no veneer, no brummagem, nothing mass-produced or as seen on TV.
    – Boston Globe, Nov. 19, 2006
 
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Not a usage you'll here around here!
Tantamount to racism if you ask me.

Harumph!
 
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But there is a usage of "brummagem" that might interest you.

The negative conotations which, acccording to Wikipedia anyway, have persisted in the US are rarely heard here now except that you do still quite often hear the phrase "Brummagem screwdriver" meaning "hammer" and impugning the abilities of the local craftsmen. The odd thing is that you here it most often used as self-mockery by those very craftsmen.

Incidentally, though I am defending the brummies here, it must be noted that to a Black Country lad like me it's considered an insult to be mistaken for a brummie.
 
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"Brummagem screwdriver" meaning "hammer"

A lead version of which used to be supplied with British cars that used Dunlop wire wheels. Ahhh, the good old days...


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
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claddagh – a ring with a raised design of two hands clasping a crowned heart, usually given as a token of love or friendship
[after Claddagh, a fishing village and suburb of Galway]
    Then she carefully slid on the Claddagh ring, making sure the heart pointed inward. “See? My heart’s closed off – because it belongs to just one person.“
    – Aimee Friedman, Hollywood Hills
 
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tattersall – a fabric with dark lines forming small, even checks on a light background; also, garments made from it
    He wore a charcoal tweed suit, a tattersall button-down shirt, a butterscotch cravat tied in a beefy Windsor knot. "Professor," said Jeremy. Levy saluted and grinned. "Professor emeritus. In plain talk, I've been put out to pasture.”
    – Jonathan Kellerman, The Conspiracy Club
 
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I remember wearing such cloth. Or at least my mother used to say, "He tattersall his clothes."


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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Is it the same etymology as tatter?
 
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Is it the same etymology as tatter?

Tattersall is an eponym. It's from Richard Tatersall [1724–1795] an English race horse auctioneer. Not sure if it's related to tatter (I assume you mean the noun meaning a bit of cloth). That's from Old Norse. The family name is from the placename, Tattershall, in Lincolnshire. The first part is from the personal name, Tāthere. Off hand, I'd say there not related.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Proofreader:
"He tattersall his clothes."

I'm sure you've read this, but if not, well, here goes - surely a relative of Proofreader's:

There was a young lady from Natchez
Whose clothes were in tatters and tatches
When asked of her plight
She replied with delight,
Sir, when I itches, I scrrrrrratchez!


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
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Ah, yes. I wasn't thinking. I just checked the OED and "tatter" has a Scandinavian origin from as far back as 1402. Wow.
 
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Gotham: man of Gothamantique: a simpleton (in the sense of one given to impractical schemes)
    Sir George Grey is an enigma. He is very strong and very weak, very clever and very stupid, very good and not very good. His aims are high, his utterances noble, and his conduct not always either. … He is nice, he is nasty; he is good, he is bad; is at the same time a Socrates and a man of Gotham, is in fact a living contradiction … .
    – Thames (NZ) Star, Feb. 12, 1880
The proverberial Gotham (perhaps referring to the real village of that name) was known for the folly of its inhabitants. Here’s a sample tale of them:
    When the wise men of Gotham decided they wanted hear the cuckoo sing all to year round, they … built a fence around it. … The cuckoo promptly flew away. “Curses!” cried the wise men of Gotham, “We didn’t build the fence high enough.”
    – The Day (New London, CT), July 16, 2003
P.S. I neglected to tell you where “tattersall” comes from. It’s the traditional design of horse blankets, and it’s named after Tattersall's horse market (and gamblers’ haven), London, founded 1766 by auctioneer Richard Tattersall (1724-1795).
 
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man of Gotham – antique: a simpleton

You're calling Batman a simpleton?


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Proofreader:
quote:
man of Gotham – antique: a simpleton

You're calling Batman a simpleton?

Nah, it was Farmer Hoggett in the movie, "Babe." He Got ham.http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112431/


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
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Today’s two words pair well together.

donnybrook – an uproar; a free-for-all; a brawl
[after Donnybrook fair, held annually in Donnybrook, a Dublin suburb noted for its annual fair and for its brawls]

rugby – a form of [European] football, that differs from soccer in freedom to carry the ball, block with the hands and arms, and tackle; characterized by continuous action
[after Rugby, public school where the game was played, in the city of Rugby, England]
    Salary caps such as that breached by the Australian rugby league side … are a public good, if you accept the premise that they deliver an even playing field. For league fans, nothing beats a close game, punctuated by end-to-end tries, bone-crunching tackles and, hopefully, at least one donnybrook. But when people talk of an even playing field, they're talking only of sport, not the commercial game.
    – Dominion Post (New Zealand) (.stuff.co.nz), May 7, 2010
 
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I grew up in Donnybrook, a suburb on the now-fashionable South-East side of Dublin. I feel compelled to defend its reputation by mentioning that the notorious Donnybrook Fairs were held annually from the 13th Century to the mid-1800's, when it was shut down for the public drunkenness, brawling and general licentiousness that gave rise to the surviving toponym. These are all vices with which the current residents of Donnybrook, and those of my youth, are complete strangers :-)
 
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While I'm here, I should add a comment about Rugby...

I grew up hearing a saying that "Football (i.e. Soccer) is a gentlemen's game played by hooligans, and Rugby is a hooligans' game played by gentlemen."

There's an entertaining note on the origin of this saying at http://jottingsonrugby.com/201...igans-and-gentlemen/
 
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Excellent link Rod.
 
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Welcome, Rod! We love newbies. Pull up a chair and stay awhile...
 
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My own home town (or rather, village) also had an annual fair. It was known as the Horn Fair (no sniggering at the back, there!) and was suppressed in 1874 for the same reasons. It wasn't so notorious as Donnybrook, but it did attract the censure of Daniel Defoe in the 1720s.


Build a man a fire and he's warm for a day. Set a man on fire and he's warm for the rest of his life.
 
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Not currently a toponym, but when I was in my youth I lived for a while in Southern La-La-land, a.k.a. California, near the town of Camarillo, which was then known for having a large mental hospital, Camarillo State Hospital. (Yeah, very original, that) When it was decided to free the inmates, wait for them to commit crimes, and re-incarcerate them in prisons, Camarillo State Hospital was turned into a branch of the California university system. It took some time before saying that you were in Camarillo State to not sound a bit odd.


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
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a large mental hospital

Wherefore these euphemistic phrases? Was't not a gigantic loony bin?


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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A mentally-challenged health facility


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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The whole of La-La Land is a gigantic loony bin, with only a few sane sorts there to keep track of the inmates. For evidence ask Gray Davis. Big Grin


It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society. -J. Krishnamurti
 
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The local state government announced today that plans were being implemented to completely fence in the State Capitol and rename it Disneyland North.


Give a man a fish and he can eat for one day; give a man a fishing pole and he will find an excuse to never work again.
Nollidj is power.
 
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quote:
Originally posted by Geoff:
The whole of La-La Land is a gigantic loony bin, with only a few sane sorts there to keep track of the inmates. For evidence ask Gray Davis. Big Grin


Who is Grade-A Vis?
 
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Who is Grade-A Vis?

He (link) was a governor of California back before der Gubanator (link) triumphed.


Ceci n'est pas un seing.
 
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