You may have noticed when looking words up in a dictionary that the origin of the word is given. The etiology will be attributed to Latin, Greek, French, Old English, Middle English, etc. But fear not all you denizens of the U.S., Americans have come up with some words of our own in the past 300+ years.
One thing I love about some words is that they sound exactly what they mean. For instance, nefarious – [from the Latin] What a delicious word for reprehensible, despicable, wicked. Just looking at the word and you know it’s up to no good.
parsimony – [Late Middle English from Latin] Sparing, unwilling to spend, frugal. It makes me think of parsley and how it’s used sparingly as a decorative finish on a meal.
perspicacious – [from the Latin] Insight into and understanding of things. Reminds me of perspective and periscope – good for looking into things.
Perhaps it’s just me and how I relate to words.
Now, onto the wonderful newish American words.
antsy - Ever feel agitated, impatient, or restless? This word dates back to the mid-19th century, and is believed to have come from the popular phrase ‘to have ants in your pants’ – a truly unsettling sensation.
cool - No word is more American than cool. Originating in 1930s America as a black slang word for fashionable, it was adopted by jazz musicians to mean hip and acceptable.
dude - Originally a put-down for a man overly concerned with his clothes, fashion and appearance, and also for a rich man from the city who vacations on a ranch. Today the meaning has shifted to someone you think is cool, or great. Can be synonymous with bro.
bangs – Not a sound, like a gun going off, but a fringe of hair that’s cut straight across the forehead.
bumptious - First known use in 1803, meaning offensively self-assertive, proud and loud in an annoying way.
catawampus - Originating in the South or Midwest in the 1840s, catawampus means confused or diagonal. It could stem from kitty (or catty-)-cornered.
discombobulate - First recorded in 1916 as discombobracate, then discomboobulate. They all mean exactly what they sound like: to confuse or upset.
d’oh – First known use by cartoon character Homer Simpson in 1993. Used to express sudden recognition of a foolish blunder or an ironic turn of events – hence Homer’s frequent use of it.
druthers - Derived from “would rather” (as in: “If I had my would-rathers, I’d been living in St. Kitts now.)
foofaraw - From the American West, a mutation of the Spanish fanfaron, meaning "show-off." Connotes a fuss about something insignificant or an excessive amount of decoration, hence foo-foo for frilly homey crafts involving lace and hot glue guns.
hornswoggle - First known appearance in 1829, aptly meaning "to trick or hoax." Another one of those words that once heard or read you know the meaning.
lollapalooza – First known use 1896 meaning: an extraordinary thing, person, or event.
sockdolager - The product of a 19th-century fad to mix Latin roots with slang to create new, often silly, words. Partly derived from sock, "to punch," and possibly from doxology, "the end of a service". Sockdolager may have been one of the last words Lincoln heard before he was assassinated. (assuming it was in Our American Cousins, the play he was attending, rather than some sort of snide warning from John Wilkes Booth.)