Words at Play : Funny-Sounding and Interesting Words

#2: Cattywampus

Definition:

dialect : askew, awry, kitty-corner

Example:

"The points ... where [the two grids] would meet became Broadway and Colfax Ave. which is why to this day downtown Denver sits catty-wampus to the rest of the city." – Francis J. Pierson and Dennis J. Gallagher, Getting to Know Denver: Five Fabulous Walking Tours, 2006

About the Word:

Long ago English gamblers called the four-dotted side of a die cater (from the French quatre, "four"). The placement of those four dots suggested two diagonal lines, which is likely how cater came to mean (dialectally, anyway) "to place, move, or cut across diagonally."

Catercorner (later kitty-corner) and caterwampus –and eventually cattywampus –followed.

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May 24, 2015
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