Your Word of the Week: Mumpsimus

We at WLHQ love this word, and we suspect that almost everybody has one:

mumpsimus (n.) – a habitual action or idea that one adheres to, despite knowing it is incorrect. Or: One who adheres to such an action or idea.

It’s not necessarily a moral issue, and it’s certainly more fun when it isn’t. A popular example is George W. Bush, who will surely go to his grave saying “nucular” even though he knows that’s not a word. The Flaming Redhead has one, saying “anyways” even though she knows that’s not a word.

She says I have one too, because I insist on pronouncing mumpsimus like an unedumacated simpleton, rather than the way a Latin scholar like herself would say it, i.e., all snooty-like. I try to tease her for being the sort who would sip tea with the pinky finger extended, but I can’t really make it work because if I imagine her other hand, there is usually a prison shank in it.

In my view, I pronounce it like any American English-speaker should, which only makes me more of a mumpsimusaurus in her view.

Usage: Does my mumpsimus qualify me for protection under the Americans with Disabilities Act?

The word supposedly originated with a priest, who was supposed to use the Latin word “sumpsimus” in some rite or other (we are not an ecclesiastical scholar). He said “mumpsimus” instead. When his peers informed him of his error, he said he had always said mumpsimus and would always say it that way. And so the word was born as a mockery of one clueless priest.

(NB: as timeless a mockery as that is, I’d still rather be that priest than the guy the word “Mulligan” was named after.)

So there you have it, a word you really need to know. What’s your mumpsimus? Use it in a sentence this week, and tell us what happens! And as always, listen to each Thursday from 5 to 7 pm, Central time, and be the first to know your next Word of the Week! (I usually present the WOTW at about 6 pm.)

Remember that all other attempts to present a Word of the Week are unauthorized, and their perpetrators should be sent to World Lexicography Headquarters for immediate reeducation.

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