Monday, 21 May 2012

Donning and Doffing


As you step out in the cold misery of a British May, you don your hat. Then you see a lady of your acquaintance and you doff your hat. Then you don it again. Doff. Don. Doff. Don. And suddenly you realise, in a moment of etymological ecstasy, that the verb don is merely a contraction of do on, and that doff is merely a contraction of do off. And you're so excited that you kiss that poor lady and run off howling and hatless.

6 comments:

  1. Thanks for making me laugh! I guess one could take "don" and "doff" for a ride and explore other original occasions to use them – to comic effect. Hey! We could set a trend there!

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  2. Ah! I always thought it was like "put on" a hat: "puddon" and then "'don". But I couldn't figure out "doff". Maybe it should've been "take off": "taggoff" and then "goff".

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  3. Similarly, at the beginning of James Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, 'Dante' is soon seen to be not an Italian poet but an elderly female family-friend of the very young narrator. In Dublinese, 'the aunty' is easily rendered as D'aunty, or Dante.

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  4. New Kid on the Block21 May 2012 21:14

    ".. in a moment of etymological ecstasy,..."
    Douze points! mon chere Fou d'encre de Chine :-)

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  5. If only most people still wore hats... what has happened to good fashion?

    -C.B

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  6. When I worked in a mill (the dark satanic sort), we had to doff the mules. This is the process of removing the cops (spun yarn wound round a tube) and replacing them with empty tubes.

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