The Romance of Language: Word for the Week 2/10/17

Callithumpian:

“Designating a band of discordant instruments; of or pertaining to such a band. A member of a callithumpian band.”

–from William Craigie’s Dictionary of American English, 1940

 

Callithump seem …to be of American origin. It represents the French charivari.”

–from M. Schele De Vere’s Americanisms: The English of the New World, 1871

britannica_trombone_double_slideThe mere reading of this word and the definition from Craigie and I was immediately thinking of the 1957 classic musical The Music Man. The plot of the play follows a charlatan, Professor Harold Hill who come to a small Iowa town in the early 1900s and sells the town on the idea of forming a boys band.  He’s really just trying to get the town to buy the instruments and band uniforms from him–he can’t teach the boys to play. So he has them rehearse by telling them to think the music so that when the instruments come in, they’ll be able to play them. At the end of the play when he’s caught out, the boys get together and play in what can only be called a callithumpian manner. (Love this play and the movie with Robert Preston!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to The Romance of Language: Word for the Week 2/10/17

  1. That was interesting! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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