Realize Magazine's 101 Coolest Words Defined G - J

The Rollicking Life of the World's Greatest Language

Giggle - The earliest known usage of giggle in English dates from the 16th century [Akin to gaggle: cf. OD. ghichelen, G. kichern.] To laugh with short catches of the breath or voice; to laugh in a light, affected, puerile or silly manner; to titter with childish levity. “Giggling and laughing with all their might At the piteous hap of the fairy wight.” J. R. Drake.

Gooey -1893, American English slang, from goo + -y. The first element perhaps somehow imitative, or shortened from burgoo (1787) "thick porridge." As for goo, 1903, American English, probably a back-formation from gooey. Interesting how the word morphed from describing a sticky substance to becoming a descriptive for the romantic... "We used to write gooey love letters to each other saying how much we missed each other." The Biography of a Rabbit by Roy Benson.










Gargantuan - yes, meaning enormous. But the source is Gargantua, a ribald 16th century tale by Rabelais. The giant Gargantua was born after an 11-month pregnancy and a labor so difficult, that his mother threatened to castrate his father. Gargantua was born calling for ale and with a yard-long erection.


Hiccup - circa 1580. etym: imitative. hiccough, singultus (usually plural) - the state of having reflex spasms of the diaphragm accompanied by a rapid closure of the glottis producing an audible sound; sometimes a symptom of indigestion) And here is an interesting fact:  The longest hiccups on record were by an American pig farmer whose hiccups persisted from 1922 to 1987... Count your blessings.

Halcyon - 14 days of calm weather at the winter solstice, when a mythical bird (identified with the kingfisher) was said to breed in a nest floating on calm seas. From Greek halkyon, variant of alkyon "kingfisher," from hals "sea, salt" + kyon "conceiving."  Identified in mythology with Halcyone, daughter of Aeolus, who when widowed threw herself into the sea and became a kingfisher.

Hellion - a rowdy or mischievous person (usually a young man); "He chased the young hellions out of his yard" Etymology: probably alteration (influenced by hell) of hallion ; scamp: a troublesome or mischievous person. (1787)

Higgledy-piggledy - "confusedly, hurriedly," probably formed from Pig and the animal's suggestions of mess and disorder. Reduplications in the h-/p- pattern are common (e.g. hanky-panky, hocus-pocus, and hinchy-pinchy, an obsolete children's game.

Hoopla - Excitement surrounding an event or situation, esp. when considered to be unnecessary fuss.Consider the great synonyms: rumpus - pandemonium - commotion - hurly-burly.American English, earlier houp-la, exclamation accompanying quick movement (1870), perhaps borrowed from Fr. houp-là, "upsy-daisy," also a cry to dogs, horses, etc. 









Imp - Old English impe, impa "young shoot, graft." Sense of "child, offspring" (late 14c.) came from the transfer of the word from plants to people, with notion of "newness" preserved. Modern meaning "little devil" (1580s) is from common use in pejorative phrases like the 'Imp of Satan.'

Id - Used in psychoanalytical theory to denote the the part of the mind in which unconscious instinctive impulses and primary processes are manifest. From the translation of Freud's "Das Ich und das Es” German es, means it as does the Latin word id.

Itty-bitty - (teeny-weeny)

Imbroglio - an intricate and perplexing state of affairs; an entanglement; a complicated or difficult situation.  Italian, derivative of imbrogliare - to embroil. From brogliare, to mix, stir

Jackanapes - mid-15c., "a monkey," also "an impertinent, conceited fellow;" apparently from Jack of Naples, but whether this is some specific personification or folk etymology of jack (n.) + ape is unknown. 

Jazz - by 1912, American English, first attested in baseball slang; as a type of music, attested from 1913. Probably ultimately from Creole patois jass "strenuous activity," especially "sexual intercourse" but also used of Congo dances, from jasm (1860) "energy, drive," of African origin (cf. Mandingo jasi, Temne yas), also the source of slang jism.

Jubilation - rejoicing, a feeling of great happiness and triumph. Jubilant: 1660s, from Latin jubilare "to call to someone," in Christian writers, "to shout for joy," related to jubilum "wild shout." First attested in Milton. Related: Jubilantly.

A shrine to Jagganath, seen in the center.

Juggernaut - Altered from Jaggernaut, a title of Krishna (an incarnation of Vishnu), from Hindi Jagannath, lit. "lord of the world." The term applies to a "huge wagon bearing an image of the god Krishna," (especially at the town of Puri) which is drawn annually in a procession in which (apocryphally) devotees allowed themselves to be crushed under its wheels in sacrifice.

The contemporary Western, figurative sense, from 1854, is of "anything that demands blind devotion or merciless sacrifice."  This image of Romans should suffice to represent the concept... However, whereas the Indian usage does imply blind devotion, the Roman version is clearly nothing other than merciless sacrifice...


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