Two compounds

Two N-N compounds that came by me recently, one silly, one serious. Both are subsective: the referent of the compound as a whole is a subtype of the referent of the second (head) noun. But in neither case is the relationship between the two nouns straightforward.

First, today’s Bizarro:

Then there’s the N-N compound hope chest, heard dimly on some tv show as I was wakening from a nap.

On the first, there already is a compound bullfrog, also subsective and semantically complex. From OED2:

bullfrog  The name given to certain large American frogs, esp. Rana pipiens, a species 6 or 8 inches long, which has a voice not unlike that of a bull.

So there is a connection to bulls, but it’s not very direct.

But the cartoon has a different sense of bull, namely ‘bullshit’ (so there’s a pun here); the frog in the cartoon purveys bullshit; from NOAD2 on bullshit:

noun  stupid or untrue talk or writing; nonsense.

The compound is subsective but the connection between frog and bull is again indirect.

On to hope chest. From OED2:

n. chiefly U.S. a chest or box in which a young woman hopefully collects articles towards a home of her own in the event of her marriage. [first cite 1911]

(The Wikipedia article is of course much more detailed.)

Hope chest is subsective; it refers to a chest, in one of the senses of chest. Again, the connection to the first noun, hope, is indirect, though hopefulness figures in the OED‘s definition.

[After I was fully awake, I began to wonder about hope chests. Does this social practice have much currency these days? The Wikipedia article is written mostly in the past tense.]

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