Wednesday, May 23, 2012

No Mystery to These Words

The blog Wordnik (yeah, I didn’t know there was such a thing either until earlier today) has put together a short but interesting backgrounder on some terms that are very familiar to crime-fiction readers. Included among the bunch is this example:
Gumshoe originated around 1906, and comes from “the rubber-soled shoes [detectives] wore,” perhaps because they allow the wearer “to move about stealthily.” Dick meaning detective “is recorded from 1908, perhaps as a shortened variant of detective.” Shamus, slang for a police officer or private investigator, may come from the Hebrew shamash, “servant,” referring to the “sexton of a synagogue,” and influenced by the Irish name Seamus, or James, “a typical name for an Irish cop.”
You can dig up the whole Wordnik post here.

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