Saturday, January 2, 2016

Word of the day: frammis

[Nancy panel, June 2, 1951. From Random Acts of Nancy, January 2, 2016.]

Ernie Bushmiller is said to have said that he drew his comic strip for “the gum chewers”: I doubt that he was aiming to send anyone to the dictionary with this bit of dialogue. In 2016, though, frammis might require a gloss. The Merriam-Websters (Second , Third , Collegiate ) are no help, but the Oxford English Dictionary comes through:

frammis, n .

U.S. colloq. (freq. humorous ).

1. With capital initial. As a generic surname, esp. in comic strips or in an invented company name.

2. Nonsense, jargon; commotion, confusion. Also as a count noun.

3. Esp. in imitations of jargon or technical vocabulary: a thing which the speaker cannot or does not name, a thingy. Cf. gismo n ., thingummy n .
The Dictionary’s earliest instance of frammis (as a surname) dates to 1940. The other senses of the word soon follow (1946, 1948). Sense 3 has some especially choice quotations. From 1948: “Mitynice is the only marmalade that gives you that special, seal-tested, bottled-in frammis.” From 1978: “The frammis on my graffle plate isn’t working and I’ll have to take it apart and clean it.”

In this Nancy panel, FRammis works as an exchange-name version of 555 . Of course, a clever gum chewer could have tried dialing 376-649. Or more cleverly, 372-6649.

Related reading
All OCA Nancy posts (Pinboard)

[The complete strip appears in Nancy Loves Sluggo: Dailies, 1949–1951 (2014), the third volume in Fantagraphics’s Nancy series. This panel comes first. In the second panel, Nancy runs from the telephone. In the third, she shouts from around a corner: “Hello Gracie — how is your mumps?” And whence frammis ? The OED : “Origin uncertain. Perhaps a humorous use of the surname Frammis , attested earlier in the 20th cent.”]

comments: 1

Fresca said...

Could be useful at the Thrift Store.
"What is this?"
"Oh, that? That's a frammis."