Word times: two Ruthies, three Psychs

Annals of lexical confusions and innovations. Two word problems from Ruthie in the cartoon One Big Happy (two recent strips), a word confusion and two innovations from the tv show Psych.

Ruthie faces clone. As so often, Ruthie is confronted with a word that is unfamiliar to her — in this case, clone — and takes it to be a phonologically similar word that she is familiar with: cologne:


Ruthie faces irregular. And sometimes Ruthie stumbles over an ambiguity, in this case in irregular: ‘occurring at uneven or varying rates or intervals’, in this case with reference to bowel movements (what Ruthie hears) vs. ‘not even or balanced in shape or arrangement’, in this case with reference to clothes, denoting  small defects in stitching or in sizing (what a tv commercial intends):


Shawn and Jules argue over omelet and umlaut.  In an episode of Psych, the psychic Shawn Spencer comes up with umlaut as a food name (a classical malapropism), while Jules (the character Juliet ‘Jules’ O’Hara, played by Maggie Lawson) corrects him with omelet.

Shawn verbs nutshell. In other episodes, Shawn uses nutshell as a verb meaning ‘to put into a nutshell, to summarize succinctly’. Not a usage original with him — you can find a number of occurrences of nutshell it for you on the net — but definitely a useful innovation.

Shawn portmanteaus male nanny. In yet another episode, Shawn goes undercover as a nanny — a male nanny, which Shawn refers to as a manny. More entertaining than useful, but (again) reasonably well attested elsewhere on the net.

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