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    Word Matrix: Doodle

    Word Matrix: Doodle

    While reading some books about the history of words earlier this year, I came across the word <fopdoodle>, which means “a stupid or insignificant fellow, a fool, a simpleton.” The morpheme <doodle> means “fool, simpleton” and is of unknown origin. The noun meaning “simple fellow” is attested from 1620s.

    My family has been using the word <fopdoodle> in everyday speech whenever possible, so I decided to study the word. Searching for other words that contained <doodle>, I found the following list:


    At first I thought that I could put all the words into a single matrix, but I was wrong.

    The base is <doodle>, so <doodle> and <doodles> are the first words that I put into the matrix. Etymonline lists <doodle-bug> as a relative. <doodlebug> is another spelling, so I put <doodlebug> and <doodlebugs> in. Etymonline also lists <flapdoodle> as attested in 1833 as meaning “the stuff they feed fools on,” perhaps with allusions to flap “stroke, blow” and doodle “fool, simpleton.” The word <sardoodledom> means “well-made works of drama that have trivial, insignificant, or morally objectionable plots.” The <sar> is a clip of <Sardou> from Victorien Sardou.

    The word <dipsydoodle> means “follow a zigzag course,” but the etymology is unknown. I thus placed the verb <dipsydoodle> and its forms in an Unknown Origin category.

    At first I thought that <whackadoodle> was a relative, but I was wrong. <whackadoodle> came from <whackadoo> in the 1990s. <whackadoo> is from the 1950s, probably from <wack> or <wacky>. Thus the <doodle> in <whackadoodle> is a different <doodle>, one formed from <doo>. <wackadoodle> is an alternative spelling.

    The word <whangdoodle> is attested from around 1856 of American origin. However, I cannot find any etymological information on the word. The first use is attributed to William P. Brannan in a sermon parody as “Where the lion roareth and the whangdoodle mourneth for her first-born” published in The Harp of a Thousand Strings: Or, Laughter for a Lifetime in 1858. I thus placed <whangdoodle> in the Unknown Origin category.

    The word <snickerdoodle> is especially interesting to me. The etymology is unknown. One hypothesis is that the word is a mispronunciation of the German <Schneckennudel>. <schnecken> means “snail, slug.” The <snick> can also mean “cut, clip, snip.” However, because the history is uncertain, I put the word under the Unknown Origin category.

    The phrase <Yankee Doodle> may also be related, but the relationship is not certain.

    I can therefore say for certain that only five words of the original eight go into a <doodle> matrix in which <doodle> means “simple fellow.”

    “fool, simpleton” of unknown origin, noun meaning “simple fellow” attested from 1620s

    Words Sums

    Doodle -> doodle
    Doodle + s -> doodles
    Doodle + Bug -> doodlebug
    Doodle + Bug + s -> doodlebugs
    Flap + Doodle -> flapdoodle
    Flap + Doodle + s -> flapdoodles
    Fop + Doodle -> fopdoodle
    Fop + Doodle + s -> fopdoodles
    Sar + Doodle + dom -> sardoodledom


    doodle: fool, simpleton
    -s: forming plural of noun

    bug: insect, beetle
    -dom: forming a noun that denotes a state or condition
    flap: stroke, blow
    fop: fool, jeer
    sar: clip of Sardou


    Whacka + Doodle -> whackadoodle
    Whacka + Doodle + s -> whackadoodles
    Wacka + Doodle -> whackadoodle
    Wacka + Doodle + s -> whackadoodles

    Unknown Origin

    Dip + s + y + Doodle -> dipsydoodle
    Dip + s + y + Doodle + s -> dipsydoodles
    Dip + s + y + Doodle + ed -> dipsydoodled
    Dip + s + y + Doodle + ing -> dipsydoodling
    Snick + er + Doodle -> snickerdoodle
    Snick + er + Doodle + s -> snickerdoodles
    Whang + Doodle -> whangdoogle
    Whang + Doodle + s -> whangdoodles
    Yankee Doodle

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