Grandma Rose knows

In the One Big Happy strip from 4/30, Ruthie explains, impishly, that there’s a name for her grandma’s special brand of perceptiveness:

Even better, that name rhymes with the historical model for nouns in –dar, denoting ‘the ability to detect some quality’ (like having dyed gray hair)

From my 5/27/11 posting “Portmanteau spawns libfix”:

It’s an often-told story: A portmanteau word (useful or playful or both) invites other portmanteaus sharing an element (usually the second), and then these drift from the phonology and semantics of the original to such an extent that the shared element takes on a life of its own — is “liberated” as an affix. [An example:]

-dargaydar ‘ability to detect that [certain] people are gay’ (gay + radar, the second historically an acronym) motivated a pile of other -dar portmanteaus (Language Log discussions herehere, and here), so that eventually -dar came to be seen as a formative on its own, usable with bases other than monosyllables (from jewdar and blackdar, eventually to humordar and sarcasmdar) and conveying not just ‘ability to detect people in some social group’ but more generally ‘ability to detect some quality’.

(There’s a Page on this blog with annotated links to postings on libfixes.)

As a final entertainment, a few possible (but, so far as I know, not yet attested) words libfixed with –dar that (like graydar) rhyme with the model gaydar:

feydar ‘ability to detect vaguely unworldly people’

cafédar ‘ability to find a café, especially a good one’

clichédar ‘ability to detect banalities, especially in otherwise fresh-sounding text’

toupeedar ‘ability to discern hairpieces, even skillfully made ones’



One Response to “Grandma Rose knows”

  1. thnidu Says:

    Oyveydar: The ability to detect jokes that are just plain facepalming– and therefore praiseworthy, as puns are.

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