Saturday, November 27, 2010

A Deep-Ass Groove (Or “Broke-Ass,” But in a Dignified Manner)

I guess I’ll just ride out the weekend on strange and wonderful words. For today, one that I just learned, that isn’t hard to pronounce, that means exactly what you think it might and that may well prove useful in various Craigslist postings.
rumpsprung (RUMP-sprung) — adjective: 1. (of furniture) having worn upholstery or collapsed springs as a result of overuse. 2. poorly dressed.
There you go: a very specific word that you’d nonetheless still have occasion to use. And it has rump right in there, which is actually how the thing you’re saying is rumpsprung got that way: from having a rump in there. As much as I like the five-, ten, and fifty-dollar words that you’d only ever need to know in the context of the GREs, the rare but simple (and butt-related) words that I enjoy most. You could actually use these and be understood by people listening to you, for one, and they prove that words don’t have to sound or look exotic in order to be special.

At least not outside-of-English exotic, though rumpsprung may only be familiar to speakers of certain types of English. No definitions for the word appear in the online Webster, American Heritage, Wiktionary or even Some Oxford dictionaries have rumpspring, however, and Wordnik also has it, though only with the definition “poorly dressed” and the vague note that this usage is “Southern.” I’d guess that the literal, furniture-related usage came first, and then connotations of general shabbiness expanded the definition to include people and their clothes as well.

However, I should also point out that this word came to my attention through a certain someone’s mother, who used to refer not only to the state of a garment but also to the presence of an ass groove: She had mentioned someone as wearing “an old, orange mink so rumpsprung that she looks like someone’s cook,” which easily ranks among the best-ever shorthand explanations for a person’s character.

Previous strange and wonderful words:
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