Are Those Terro* Mittens?…

For the purposes of this post, I will be using names that are not the real names of things and they will be inside brackets to allow the reader to know that this is so. For instance, I may refer to a someone who [glows] themselves up in a [pubic] place as a [terro-risk] or shortened to terro + * or [terro*]. Why, you may ask? Well first let me state that I like etymology and love finding out why words are what they are and how they became that way, like how datura became known as Jamestown weed and because of mispronunciations of the years became jimsonweed as I mentioned in this post. Well, I’ve been excited to report that I have discovered the origin of one such name and I believe that I’m the first to figure this out save maybe the people who are referring to themselves by the name and I’m pretty sure that the vast majority of them are probably doing so by rote and have no idea the origin. The problem with my first etymological discovery is that it is the name of an organization that is notorious and discussing this will no doubt send up red flags by google word trackers and such. So in an attempt to evade detection by [Headband ThePurity] or the [Ventral Irrelevance Flagrancy], I’m using this method. The name that I’ve found the etymological origins of is the most notorious [terro*] organization known today and I’ve often wondered about the name. But first I must start with this picture in which the model displays the genesis of my journey…

Hopefully, you are now asking yourself… what’s with the mittens. Well, I have to go back a bit. When my dad died young, only a few years older than I am now, I took several mementos of him including his 1959 K-22 Smith and Wesson pistol that I’ve only fired on 2 occasions in 20 years and both times were in my house (maybe that’s another post sometime) and these wonderfully warm mittens that he used when sawing and cutting up wood for their fireplace in central NY state. By the way and not to confuse anyone but the mittens have a tag on the side that says “gopher” which may have led the uninitiated toward Minnesota in their search but I was not diverted (plus it’s such a small tag that I really never saw it). Here’s another look at the mittens in question…

OK, as in many areas of research, I have to go back a bit more to my grandfathers time. When the Italian and in my grandfather’s case, Sicilian, immigrants came to this country, many did not speak any English or not much English. My grandfather spoke English by the time I was born but his accent was thick much like many of his friends. There was a tendency even when saying the correct English word to put an “a” or “o” on the end of the word because in their native language this indicated the gender of the noun. Over the years this has become part of the stereotyping of how Italians speak/spoke English, for instance, “he’s a nice(a) boy(a)”, etc. Well the one that was particularly intriguing to me was the word for outhouse. In the early 20th century, the homes didn’t have indoor plumbing and there was an outhouse. My grandfather supposedly called this the back house which eventually was shortened and the “a” added to the end to become bakhousa. I wore this out in college and my cousin (my dad’s sister’s child) still refers to the bathroom as the bakhousa and the hilarity that we found when we were younger has all but disappeared. This little passage is only to serve as the basis for my thinking when one day, after appreciating how great these mittens actually worked, I took the tag from the inside to see what they were made of and to my shock and awe (hmm… should I have put that in brackets?), this is what it said…

Eureka! Genuine Elkskin. Are you with me still? These mittens are Elk hide or as an Italian immigrant from the early 20th century might say… Elkhide(a) or Elkida. Now I have yet to manage the exact connection between the Italians and these mountain cave dwellers (the geographic proximity is not that substantial) but I think that it makes sense to at least assume that when hiding in caves, a good pair of Elkida mittens would be indispensable. And to think that when I first heard the name, I figured it meant something along the lines of [debt to the zinfandels] or [weird gonna git ewe sucka]. I never would have guessed it was something as innocuous as a type of garment. So there you have it… my first etymological discovery, should I alert the Institute For Etymological Research and Education?

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7 Responses to “Are Those Terro* Mittens?…”

  1. gary Says:

    Oh ho! Got it! Man, that BUG sure is funny isn’t she? A little comic.
    I don’t know if you need those gloves in KY but we sure as fox need them up here in outer siberia, I mean, upstate NY….
    and btw, are you in for happy hour at the Chapterhouse Thursday? Friday? next week????????

  2. linda starr Says:

    Wow something made in America – those are worth their weight in gold (golda) in my book (booka) for so many reasons.

  3. elfriede Says:

    wow, Jim. that was one awesome bit of writing. elk is really yummy, by the way.

  4. Miri Says:

    :-). We share your love of etymology and have often found answers (often quite amusing) at this site http://www.word-detective.com/. Perhaps you already know it.

  5. Andrew Douglas Says:

    *slaps hand to head, rolls on floor laughing* :)

  6. meredith Says:

    that must have been the days that things were madea to lasta.
    here is the mustya southa things tend to dry rot before I can keep them or the mice chew them upa.

  7. ang Says:

    yesa!! alert alert….v. funny jim, a very simple plot with convoluted delivery!! love it..

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