Share This Spectacular Vernacular
The beauty to this week’s word is that you can use it with a smile on your face and few will understand.
To explain the word, you first need to understand its etymology. The word traces back to the Greek mammóthreptos of which the first part goes even further back to mámmē or grandmother. And that second part threptós means brought up by. So, yes, mammóthreptos translates to brought up by the grandmother. How sweet, right?
Now, before we trace this word into modern English, a quick note to all of the grandmothers out there. I am merely reporting the way language has evolved. No need to send me nastygrams.
When the word moved into the Latin mammothreptus, it continued to refer to being raised by a grandmother, but expanded to include being raised by a nurse and, even, one who is kept at the breast too long.
Starting to take a bad turn, huh?
By the time it appeared in 1601 in Ben Jonson’s play Cynthia’s Revels, a mammothrept referred to a weak, mollycoddled young man.
To be fair, the word has continued to evolve beyond just males and now refers to any spoiled child.
See how much nicer mammothrept sounds than brat?