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Friday, May 11, 2007

May your weekend move along swimmingly.

The other day I found myself using swimmingly and thought that it might be a less known adverb. Then, ERiCa used it in one of her blog posts recently. Then, my daughter asked me what "swimmingly" meant. Apparently, it's said on Flushed Away. All of this in the last week or so. I know what it means, but it did get me thinking... where the heck did that word come from. I mean, "swimmingly" , it's an odd word to use as adverb - don't you think?

So, I did a little bit of investigation. I say little bit... because, well, it's Friday and I've been known to get easily distracted on a Friday afternoon. Without further delay, here is what I now know about the mysterious word.

Swimmingly: Great ease, progress, without difficulty or effort.

We can see that it uses swim. I figured that swim came before swimmingly. Yes, I have mad powers of deduction. Swim seems to come from the Middle English swimmen or Old English swimman (akin to Old High German). The dating that I could find places it before the 12th century.

Then I tried to see if I could find out when "swimmingly" may have entered our vocabulary. The only dating I could find mentioned the 1600's.

I found some references to it in classic literature.

Thanks to this inspiration, he got on swimmingly for a time, but gradually the work lost its charm, and he forgot to compose, while he sat musing, pen in hand, or roamed about the gay city to get some new ideas and refresh his mind, which seemed to be in a somewhat unsettled state that winter.
Little Women by Alcott, Louisa May

She had a turn for narrative, I for analysis; she liked to inform, I to question; so we got on swimmingly together, deriving much entertainment, if not much improvement, from our mutual intercourse.
Jane Eyre by Bronte, Charlotte

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2 Comments:

Blogger Susan Helene Gottfried said...

You're going to laugh at me and I probably shouldn't say this where it will come back to haunt me, but swimmingly always makes me think of ...

ready?

Sperm.

'Nuff said. I'll post the meme for you tomorrow.

8:33 PM  
Blogger ERiCA said...

Swimmingly! I love swimmingly! May your WIP fly by swimmingly! =)

BWA to SHG... now I'll be forced to think of that, too! *g

8:02 AM  

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