Wednesday’s Writing & Words

Having recently relocated to the beautiful state of Kentucky I have come across some words and phrases that I’ve never heard before. Today’s word of the week is one that I find fun and interesting.

My daughter first told me this word and I thought she was making it up. I mean who has ever heard of catawampus? Doesn’t that sound like a totally made up word? Even as my daughter argued that it was a real word I thought she was just being creative.

Then one day as my husband was watching tractor pulling on TV the announcer said “things are just going all catawampus today.” My head snapped up at the same time my daughter said, “see I told you it was a real word.”

So I’ve picked it as my word of the week. Hope you enjoy it.

Word of the Week


 [kat-uhwom-puh s] Chiefly Midland and Southern U.S.

askew; awry.

positioned diagonally; cater-cornered.

diagonally; obliquely:

We took a shortcut and walked catawampus across the field.
Origin of catawampus

1830-40 for earlier sense “utterly”; cata- diagonally (see cater-cornered ) + -wampus, perhaps akin to wampish Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.

Examples from the Web for catawampus
Historical Examples
Word Origin and History for catawampus

also catawampous, cattywampus, catiwampus, etc. (see “Dictionary ofAmerican Slang” for more), American colloquial. First element perhaps from obsolete cater “to set or move diagonally” (see catty-cornered ); second element perhaps related to Scottish wampish “to wriggle, twist, or swerveabout.” Or perhaps simply the sort of jocular pseudo-classical formationpopular in the slang of those times, with the first element suggesting Greekkata-.

Earliest use seems to be in adverbial form, catawampusly (1834),expressing no certain meaning but adding intensity to the action: “utterly,completely; with avidity, fiercely, eagerly.” It appears as a noun from 1843,as a name for an imaginary hobgoblin or fright, perhaps from influence ofcatamount. The adjective is attested from the 1840s as an intensive, butthis is only in British lampoons of American speech and might not beauthentic. It was used in the U.S. by 1864 in a sense of “askew, awry,wrong” and by 1873 (noted as a peculiarity of North Carolina speech) as “ina diagonal position, on a bias, crooked.”

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