January 11th, 2018

words are sexy

Thursday word: sockdolager

sockdolager (sok-DOL-uh-jer) - n., a decisive blow or comment, finisher; an outstanding person or thing, esp. in heaviness.

Over in my main journal, the theme of the week is colorful 19th century American coinages, most of them first appearing in newspapers in the 1820s and '30s -- a wildly fertile time for linguistic invention. In this case, it was coined around 1830 from sock, to hit hard + (possibly) doxology, in the Puritan sense of the closing hymn of a church service, taken in its extended meaning of a finisher. So, the original sense is of a knockout punch. To give an example of the extended meaning of something outstanding:

“There is but one ‘sogdollager’ in the universe, and that is in Lake Oswego”
—James Fenimore Cooper, in Home as Found (1838)