Passed on by Gary Robert Kelly on Facebook this morning:
Bad Taxidermy Photos Are The Potato Jesus Painting Of The Animal World (by Josh Kurp, 11/14/12) [note the snowclone X is the Y of Z (here)]
Disfigured alive animals, not so funny. Disfigured dead animals, hi-larious. Now before calling me a serial killer (that’s only half true), know that I’m referring to animals that have been taxidermied, specifically animals that have been taxidermied terribly …
Thanks to a tip from Bobby Big Wheel, we were led on a path filled with cross-eyed cats, derpy-looking dogs, and whatever the hell happened to the poor guy you see above.
(In defense of the polar bear: his teeth are perfect. Reference here to Warren Zevon’s “Werewolves of London”: I saw a werewolf drinkin’ a pina colada at Trader Vic’s / And his hair was perfect.)
This is a case in which Urban Dictionary is genuinely useful (up to a point). The UD definitions cluster pretty closely in their senses, and several point to a vector of spread, the Little Pony Derpy Hooves:
Clumsy or uncoordinated; prone to cause accidents likely due to some, often humourous, mental lapse. Ugh, I feel so derpy today. I just filled the coffee maker with pencil shavings and tried to write something down with a coffee bean. (Count Hieronymus Schlick 3/21/12)
accident prone; perhaps so much so that it makes one look foolish. I’ve been feeling pretty derpy today. Everything I touch seems to fall apart, and I cannot seem to do anything right. (SiriusLG 1/20/10)
Not “all there in the head”; possibly lacking intelligence or common sense. The wall-eyed background character in “My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic”, Derpy Hooves, is named after this. Hey, look at that guy sticking his aluminum foil-wrapped dick into an electrical outlet. That’s derpy if I’ve ever seen it. (Satoshiji 12/31/11)
To be inefficient, slow, unable, inexperienced, not working correctly, stupid, naive, etc. A word that usually takes the place of “retarded.” Can be pertaining to a person or a thing. I tried to send my essay in via email last night, but my computer was being derpy. (Derpyhoovs 7/27/11)
There’s a Derpycats site (this is, after all, Facebook):
Derpycats is a celebration of really silly looking cats. We post only the derpiest cats that the internet has to provide! Nothing makes us more happy than getting to see and share your derpy cats, so please submit!
And many derpy dog sites as well.
Derpy takes us into the world of disparagements — slurs (mostly well short of taboo status) expressing negative social judgments on any number of dimensions on which people can stand out from “normals”, framing them as:
clumsy, awkward (physically or socially); socially isolated; inclined to failure; ignorant, stupid; physically disabled, defective; crazy; dirty; funny-looking; boring; immoral; sexually exceptional (promiscuous, homosexual, impotent, etc.); physically exceptional (notably fat, thin, tall, short, etc.); foreign, outsider; engaged in socially devalued occupations; etc.
Some of these characteristics are perceptible, but all have a social dimension, and in languages with inventories of ideophones (items evoking sensory images vividly, often set off syntactically from ordinary vocabulary rather than fully integrated into sentences, and often using phonetic distinctions not otherwise phonemic in the language in question), many of these would be conveyed through ideophones.
Otherwise, the vocabulary of disparagement, even if syntactically integrated and phonologically unremarkable, tends to be highly variable across individuals, social groups, and occasions, and over time. Disparagements sometimes are used for a time as very specific slurs (gay and fag(got) ‘homosexual’, dumb, dummy, lame, retard(ed)) and then are generalized to all-purpose insults, while others are used for a time as very general insults (odd, queer ‘peculiar’) and then are specialized to narrower uses. Some disparagements simply pass out of use: drip and square are pretty much antiques. Many disparagements — geek, freak, nerd — are very hard to pin down semantically. A few disparagements are associated with particular exemplars in popular culture (Urkel, Mortimer Snerd, nebbishy characters played by Arnold Stang), though these associations are easily broken over time. Many disparagements have unclear etymologies, sometimes (as I’ve suggested for nerd; see Ben Zimmer’s discussion here) because they have no unique source, but represent a confluence of contributions from several sources.
I frankly have no clue as to the source of derpy, and it’s only too easy to speculate about possible contributors (wimp(y), ditz(y), dummy, twerp, doofus, goofy, and no doubt others). What does seem relatively firm, however, is the role of Derpy Hooves in spreading the usage (apparently pretty rapidly, leading to the current derpy cats and dogs situation, and on to derpy used of human beings and actions).