"That's a great deal to make one word mean," Alice said in a thoughtful tone. "When I make a word do a lot of work like that," said Humpty Dumpty, "I always pay it extra."
Saturday, 20 June 2009
Chuffed is a British dialect term (mainly in Northern England) and means very pleased; delighted; satisfied. It is often used with the intensifier 'dead' so someone who is dead chuffed is very very pleased. It appears to have been first used in this context around 1855. An alternative adjective 'chuff' was used to mean swollen with pride or elated.
In American English and in Southern England chuffed can mean entirely the opposite - disgruntled; dissatisfied; or annoyed. A chuff was a boorish, surly fellow. The first known written use of it in this context appears to pre-date the above by about 30 years.
To have different meanings for the same word according to where you are is quite normal but for them to be diametrically opposed is quite unusual. How confusing is that?
Interestingly, in an interview with the then British PM Tony Blair, William Safire of the New York Times suggested "Annoyed" and "put off" were the synonyms of chuffed and asked Mr Blair to pinpoint the localities to which the term was native. Tony Blair responded by warning "Be careful how you use it." Safire took this as a signal that, in addition to the opposite senses, there might be other meanings, and found there is 'a noun form equivalent to duff, from American slang'. I can only guess at what that means; duff in English has the simple and innocent meaning of a stiff flour pudding, steamed or boiled and containing plums, currants and the like.
My daughter Helen commented in November 2008 in her Blog that she was now keeping a notebook of new words that she came across during her reading. "This week I bought a lovely little leather bound book to write new words in as I read them . I've added a few from "1984", but my favourite has to be persiflage (from the French persifler) which means banter." I later discovered that my older daughter, Bryony, also kept a similar notebook.
This inspired me to create a Word blog. This will include both new words, favourite words and the origins of phrases that we commonly use. A definition and some comment, perhaps even a relevant quotation, will acompany the word or phrase.
“I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me.” - Winnie the Pooh
Thanks for stopping by! Would you like a cup of tea or coffee? And please, sit for a spell. If you enjoy my posts, please feel free to follow me or subscribe to my blog. This is a word verification free, family friendly blog, so everything I share here is for all ages. I am a happily married man in my late sixties who lives on the Wirral peninsula, near Liverpool, in the UK.
I'm a blogger - and nowadays that seems to be my main occupation. Rambles from My Chair is my main blog. I’m a retired local government executive - now studying how to survive a neurological disorder that gives me various problems but, hopefully, a whole new outlook on life and an increased sense of humour and perspective. There is a saying in Sweden "man måste vara frisk för att orka vara sjuk" ~ "you have to be well to cope with being ill"....
I enjoy most forms of communication and postcards are a special favourite. I used to blog as Scriptor Senex which is Latin for Old Writer but now Google only lets me post as John Edwards.
“He’s not so old. He’s just the age that he is, that’s all.” (Gerald Hammond)