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15 February 2010

Mondays Word - Tumbarumba

I'm not given to swearing on my blog, and no, a tumbarumba is not a swear word - but there is the word b----y a little further down, so if you're a sensitive soul, be warned! LOL

According to Michael Quinion, "A tumbarumba is not a belly-dance to South American music, as a contestant in an Australian words competition once suggested. Nor does it directly address the small Australian town of that name that lies south-west of Canberra in New South Wales...

"No, 'tumbarumba' is another name for tmesis, one form of which is that curious trick of stuffing one word into the middle of another. "Abso-bloody-lutely", "a whole nother", "fan-bloody-tastic" and "any-blooming-where" are classic cases, though many of the most powerful examples include the F-word. For a reason buried in local linguistic history it's a verbal tic Australians are fond of, who insert their favourite adjective, "bloody", to great effect. "

I also recall Eliza Doolittle used the device in the musical 'My Fair Lady "...Oh so luverly sitting abso-blooming-lutely-still..."

Michael Quinion says the origin of the term is disputed, which may be so, but what a fun word to play with!

What do red roses and candles have to do with 'tumbarumba'? I hear you ask. Abso-blooming-lutely-nothing - I'm just still in a bit of a Valentine's mood, that's all! (Don't forget the CRR Blog Carnival in the previous post!)

*World Wide Words is copyright (c) Michael Quinion 2009. All rights reserved. The Words Web site is at http://www.worldwidewords.org/