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Word for the Wise December 04, 2006 Broadcast Topic: Gigman, babbit, and booboisie

Thomas Carlyle was born on this date in 1795. A passionate historian, and fallen-away Calvinist, the Scottish-born writer influenced movements as diverse as existentialism, transcendentalism, socialism and fascism. He believed in heroes and literature, work and thought. (来源:老牌的英语学习网站 http://www.EnglishCN.com)

What he did not believe in—or to be fair, what he did not trust in—was democracy, which he considered pie-in-the sky, or, to quote the man who dubbed economics a "dismal science, a self-canceling business…[which] gives, in the long run, a net result of zero."

Thomas Carlyle also coined a term which hasn't lasted but whose meaning has reappeared again and again, authored by other writers: gigman. A gigman is a fellow who pays all respect to, and prides himself on, respectability. A gig is a "light, two-wheeled, one horse carriage." Carlyle took his term from a story of a court witness who described a person as "respectable," only to be asked by the judge what he meant by the word. "A man who keeps a gig" was the answer.

We'll pass along two of our favorite latter-day gigman kin and invite you to send along any you think of. Sinclair Lewis gave us Babbit, "a business or professional man who conforms unthinkingly to prevailing middle-class standards;" H.L. Mencken coined booboisie, a blend of boob plus bourgeoisie, used for "the general public regarded as consisting of boobs."

 
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