May 28, 2014

Case File #014.05.28: WACKY

First appearing in the English lexicon circa 1935, the adjective wacky evolved from the noun whacky, a British slang term meaning “a fool” that reached its peak of popularity at the close of the nineteenth century. Whacky itself was a derivative of the verb whack, meaning “to strike or chop,” the idea being that a fool is an individual who acts as if he or she has received a few too many blows to the head. Not surprisingly, then, wacky first came about as a way to denote the imprudent quality of a whacky's behavior, but when the noun whacky fell out of use soon after, the adjective wacky quickly acquired the broader sense of “absurdly or amusingly eccentric, irrational, or crazy.”

©2014 Michael R. Gates

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