words about a word


January 17, 2003, 11:13 PM
I read something in another thread that put me to thinking. Somebody used the term "nimrod" to describe a not overly-bright person. That's a common usage today & I've been hearing it used that way for the past 15 years or so.

IIRC, in the Bible, Nimrod was the son of Cush, who was the son of Noah. Nimrod was a renowned hunter & also king of Babylon.

Around the middle of the 20th Century, "Nimrod" was a somewhat flattering nickname for a sportsman. How did it become a synonym for doofus?

Not exactly an earth-shattering question, but words are how we define our world. What made the mighty hunter become a clown?

Bugs used to call Elmer a nimrod...:confused:

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January 17, 2003, 11:22 PM
It was probably used in a sarcastic fashion on a few slow-witted folks at first, then became twisted into a derogatory term. Just a SWAG, but it sounds possible.

January 17, 2003, 11:24 PM
Bugs probably called Elmer a nimrod like people call a big burly guy "tiny", like a guy who shoots an arrow, misses the target completely and you tell him, "good shot, Robin Hood", or "bullseye, William Tell.

January 17, 2003, 11:38 PM
I can't quote Bible verse, but I recalled that Nimrod was the King who presided over the building of the Tower of Babel. That might explain it.

I did a quick search and found this:


The Tower of Babel

The tenth and eleventh chapters of Genesis are composed of genealogies of nations and peoples designed to link the story of Noah and the Flood, which fills chapters 6 through 9, with the story of Abraham and his descendants, which fills the remainder of the book. The genealogies begin with Noah's three sons-Shem, Ham, and Japheth-and move eventually to Terah from whom Abraham is born. At two points there are parentheses dealing with the founding of the first world empire under Nimrod. The first parenthesis is 10:8-12. The second is 11:1-9.

These two go together. The first tells of Nimrod's exploits. The second does not mention Nimrod but speaks rather of an attempt to build the city of Babylon, a central feature of which was to be a great tower. On the surface these seem to be accounts of two quite separate incidents. But this is not the case. The second does indeed tell of the founding of Babylon, but we learn from the first that Babylon was the initial city of Nimrod's city-building empire. Moreover, as we study them we see that the founding of Babylon and the building of the tower of Babel in chapter 11 are an elaboration of the earlier narrative. In the first we have an emphasis on Nimrod--what he was like, what he did, what his goals were. In the second we have a treatment of the same theme but from the perspective of the people who worked with him. In each case there is a desire to build a civilization without God.

ed dixon
January 17, 2003, 11:46 PM
Gryphon is on target according to a Yahoo dictionary search. The informal derisive usage is credited to Bugs and Elmer. Hmm.

Don Gwinn
January 18, 2003, 12:07 AM
1. It isn't nice to call a dummy "Einstein," and it's not nice to call a bad hunter "Nimrod," so I guess the Bugs and Elmer bit makes sense.

2. Most people have no idea there was a Biblical figure named Nimrod, and let's face it, if you had to guess the meaning from the way the word sounds, most people would say it's an insult based on either low intelligence or undersized phallus. It just sounds ridiculous and vaguely demeaning somehow.

January 18, 2003, 12:09 AM
Scwewy wabbit anyway.

Mike Irwin
January 18, 2003, 01:45 AM
I think where it really started to turn around in this country was here...

""It sames to me, Natty, but a sorry compliment to call your comrad after the evil one," said the landlady; "and it’s no much like a snake that old John is looking now, Nimrod would be a more becomeing name for the lad, and a more Christian, too, seeing that it conies from the Bible. The sargeant read me the chapter about him, the night before my christening, and a mighty asement it was to listen to anything from the book."

James Fenimore Cooper's "The Pioneers," chapter 13.

Quite frankly, Cooper stank as a writer.

Other books of American "literature" also featured characters named Nimrod, such as "Lion of the West."

Many of these characters were pretty poorly written, and almost commedic in nature.

Matt G
January 18, 2003, 03:41 AM
All my life, "nimrod" has meant "hunter." Certainly Dictionary.com (http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=nimrod) agrees with me, with ZERO other definitions.

My take on this, is that there's a lot more doofuses (doofi?) that watch cartoons than read Cooper, or even the Bible. They were taking the term in the context of Buggs Bunny, and misused it.

Mike Irwin
January 18, 2003, 12:21 PM
The people who are the doofuses aren't the ones parceling out the nicknames.

The fact that they're watching cartoons, instead of reading, is pretty much automatic elevation to doofus in my book, anyway.

Now where the hell is the clicker. Bugs Bunny is on! :neener:

None of my dictionaries have a pejorative definition for Nimrod in them, either, so it may well not be as old as I think it is.

January 18, 2003, 02:03 PM
Language changes meaning over time. Learned that in college once. But, speaking of words, where did the word DOOFUS come from? I know its commonly used now but it sure was not when I was a kid. Good shooting:)

Art Eatman
January 18, 2003, 02:24 PM
One of my pet peeves is the use of "decimate" in place of "devastate". "Decimate" means kill one in ten, as the Romans did to the Sabines. It's been misused to the point that it has been given a secondary or tertiary meaning in Webster's to mean "devastate".

"Dudley Doofus" has been around since I was a kid, so I've no clue as to the origin.

Aside from the Elmer Fudd thing, the misuse of "nimrod" is probably no more than confusion with "dimbulb", and is used by doofi.

Nuthin lak modrun Merkin ejukashun.


4v50 Gary
January 18, 2003, 02:38 PM
I think the Republican Roman practice of decimination also applied to their own legionnaires if said legion broke before the enemy.

Like Art, I don't know where the term "doofus" came from either.

Mike Irwin
January 18, 2003, 04:21 PM
Merriam-Webster online says that doofus dates only to 1970.

January 18, 2003, 04:26 PM
Meaning: Exclamation of disbelief.

Origin: Early warships had very cramped quarters. Sailors slept between the cannons because that was the only space available. They sometimes had female company on board. Some ships actually carried prostitutes. Other times a sailor's wife would be allowed on board so that he would not have to leave the ship, and potentially desert.

In any case, many children were conceived between the cannons, or guns. Woman who gave birth on the ships typically also did so between the guns.

The male children were thus called "son of a gun".

January 18, 2003, 05:20 PM
Awww hawwww hawww hawwww!


January 18, 2003, 07:33 PM
I've always assumed that Nimrod morphed from "numb rod" which is a variation of "numb nuts".

but what the hell do I know :neener:

January 18, 2003, 10:48 PM
nimrod means..........a dickhead

January 19, 2003, 04:10 AM
My pet peeve regarding the way that language changes is the phrase, "I could care less" when what the speaker means is, "I couldn't care less". The misuse of that phrase is now so widespread that it is becoming standard. It bothers a thinking man...

A humorous story on the misuse of English:

One day an aquaintance of mine who was a blowhard and who always made a big deal out of what a "cowboy" he was, put a bumper sticker on his car that said, "If you ain't a cowboy, you ain't sh*t!" So I walked over, pointed to the sticker, and asked him, "So that means, if you are a cowboy, you are sh*t?" I noticed that he took the sticker off a few days later.

Dave Williams
January 19, 2003, 04:20 AM

At the bottom of the page. Wow!


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