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August 29, 2014

Strange But True!

Q. English is a decidedly inventive language, with blended words offering a useful way to name things (vitamin: vital + amine), places (Mexicali: Mexico + California), ideas (sitcom: situational + comedy) and more, according to Anu Garg's A.Word.A.Day website. Thinking creatively, can you name the component words and meanings of these blends: “muzzy,” “bumptious,” “slimsy” and “stiction”?

A. As you may have surmised, “muzzy” is made up of “muddled” + “fuzzy,” first used in 1728 and meaning mentally confused or blurred, Garg explains. For those self-assertive in an obnoxious way, you have “bumptious,” most probably a blend of “bump” + “fractious” or “bump” + “presumptuous.” “Slimsy,” meaning “flimsy” or “frail,” comes from “slim” + “flimsy,” as used in Dawn Shamp's “On Account of Conspicuous Women” (2008): “When he asked if she needed a rest, stubbornness caused her to refuse — She didn't want him thinking she was soft and slimsy.”

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