Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Entry: quandariacal (adj.)

In context:  "'I don't see what's quandariacal for Dr. Tavis about this.'"

Definition: A neologism, presumably from quandary (n.):

A state of extreme perplexity or uncertainty as to what to do; a difficult dilemma.  

Other: You can tell the editor(s) were having fun here:

Etymology:  Origin unknown. Various etymologies have been suggested, all of them implausible. Perhaps compare conundrum n.

A recurrent suggestion is that the word is an alteration of some post-classical Latin term, arising (perhaps humorously) in scholastic or university use. This is not impossible (compare conundrum n., which also appears to show Latin influence, although both its etymology and its relationship with quandary n. are unclear), but no convincing concrete Latin etymons have yet been suggested. However, the following quot. shows that the word was at least apprehended as Latin at an early date:
1582   R. Mulcaster 1st Pt. Elementarie xvii. 111   In Latin words, or of a Latin form, where theie be vsed English like, as, certiorare, quandare, where e, soundeth full and brode after the originall Latin.

Some of the more fanciful suggestions are: that the word derives < French qu'en dirai-je ‘what shall I say of it?’; that it is an alteration of wandreth n. or its Scandinavian etymon; or that it is shortened < hypochondry n. All of these present obvious difficulties, whether semantically, phonologically, or chronologically, not the least of which is the fact that that the word was originally stressed on the second syllable (see below).

A further ingenious suggestion was made by L. Spitzer in various articles, notably in Jrnl. Eng. & Germanic Philol. (1948) 42 405–9 and Mod. Lang. Notes (1949) 64 502–4, where he argued for a French origin of the word, proposing an (unattested) earlier form of calambredaine (colloquial) nonsense, twaddle, balderdash (1798; of uncertain origin) as common etymon of both quandary n. and conundrum n., and perhaps even of kankedort n. (which is attested much earlier).

N.E.D. (1908) also indicates a former pronunciation (kwǫ̆·ndări) /kwənˈdɛərɪ/ with stress on the second syllable. This pronunciation is illustrated by quots. 1652 and a1720, and is also recommended by such late 18th-cent. and early 19th-cent. lexicographers as Sheridan, Walker, Perry, and Smart. However, the stress gradually shifted to the first syllable of the word (it has been suggested that the stress shift took place in the 18th cent., though the existence of the spelling quandery as early as the 17th cent. perhaps suggests earlier currency of this stress pattern). ˈQuandary is given as the usual pronunciation of the word by as early a source as Johnson (1755). Subsequently, many 19th-cent. and early 20th-cent. dictionaries record both possibilities; it is only in the later 20th cent. that the first-syllable stress came to predominate (the shift in attitudes is clearly seen in the various editions of H. W. Fowler Mod. Eng. Usage). The nonstandard spelling quandry shows elision of the unstressed vowel


SNOOT score:  2
 
Page: 674

Source: Oxford English Dictionary   

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