Fun With Words

Haven't we all wondered where the word "womanizer" came from? Did some cruel semanticist coin it? I mean, we're all fully cognizant of what an "appetizer" is, and what a "tranquilizer" is, and what an "organizer" is, and even what a "vaporizer" is. (In fact, I used a vaporizer this very morning to get some boys off my lawn). So how on Earth did we get the word "womanizer"??

If we're talking about something as prosaic as a "skirt chaser," why did we have to abandon all those earlier words--those perfectly suitable words--we already had for it? Words like masher, cad, Lothario, Don Juan, seducer, lounge lizard, wolf, Casanova, and lecher, just to name a few.

Also, one could argue that besides being superfluous and a bit too antiseptic (it sounds like something invented in a lab), the word "womanizer" is imprecise, and therefore, susceptible to being misleading, because it could just as easily mean "to make woman-like."

Just consider: When you "accessorize" something, you add desirable "accessories" to it. When you "humanize" something, you make it more "human." Accordingly, when you "womanize" something, couldn't it mean that you are attempting to make it more "woman-like"?

For instance, when we see some ludicrously masculine caricature of a macho man doing his testosterone walk down a city street, might we say, "Hey, that dude needs to be womanized"?

Another strange word is "cookie." When I lived in India, everyone called them "biscuits," conforming to the British usage, and when they heard us Americans refer to them as "cookies" they found it funny. Naturally assuming that the word "cookie" had to have derived from the verb "to cook," they found our almost primitive simplicity hilarious.

To the Indians, calling something that you "cooked"--something that you just removed from the oven--a "cookie," was as simplistic and uninspired as calling something you eat, an "eatie," or something you drink, a "drinkee."

Because their ridicule of this word made us self-conscious, I dreaded being asked what we Americans called a particular piece of fruit. A particular piece of citrus fruit that was orange in color. Oh, you mean what do we call that orange fruit? We call it an "orange."

And how about that winged insect that's been pestering us. Oh, that flying bug? We call it a "fly." As in the sentence, "The fly was on the orange, but now it's on the cookie." But don't go thinking that all our words are simplistic, because we happen to have a really fancy word for that diagonal line on a triangle. We call it a "hypotenuse. " Don't ask.

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