Words on a Word

And the word is: mumpsimus.

That’s right, mumpsimus. If you are pro-metric, you REALLY need to learn this word. You’ll find a few slightly different definitions on the Web, but the one I like best is the one in the wikitionary:

“A person who obstinately adheres to old ways in spite of clear
evidence that they are wrong; an
ignorant and bigoted opponent of reform.”

 (http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/mumpsimus Includes a pronunciation aid.)

I just came across this word for the first time (I think) earlier this week since I subscribe to the Oxford English Dictionary’s “Word of the Day.” It arrived Wednesday. Should have had a pretty bow on it.

As soon as I saw what it meant I was thrilled. A perfect word to describe those who understand the metric system and still don’t believe we should adopt it as a country.

Granted, there are lots of folks who don’t really understand what happened to the metric system in the United States and why the impact of our getting behind the curve on this issue is so egregious. I don’t blame them. You don’t know what you don’t know. I’m also relatively sure that once they realize what’s happened, they’ll want to do something about it.

It’s the people who understand that they are holding themselves and others back and don’t care (or actually like being obstinate) who deserve the word mumpsimus.

Mumpsimus.  Mumpsimus. Mumpsimus.

(I’ll readily admit that I had to practice to get it right…Totally worth it.)

Another thing I really love about it is that since it is mostly unknown, it could be disarming under the right circumstances.

Witness the following dialogue that is taking place in my head:

Anti-metric individual: “There’s no reason we should abandon a measurement system that’s served us for more than 200 years.” [Or feel free to insert the anti-metric reference of your choice.]

You: “So, I take it you’re a mumpsimus?” [I’ve seen it listed variously as both a noun and a verb.]

Anti-metric individual: [You should at least get a moment of stunned silence.]

Here’s why: odds of knowing the word—almost nil. If the person has any intelligence he or she will be hesitant to either agree or disagree with your supposition since it’s an unknown. And even any if individuals on the other side of the argument know what the word means, I conjecture that rare is the person who would want to admit to being “ignorant and bigoted.”

Of course, the REALLY ignorant and bigoted people will most likely continue with their anti-metric rant since they weren’t really listening to you anyway: that’s how they got ignorant and bigoted in the first place.

I really think the pro-metric movement should embrace this word. It’s perfect for our cause.

It even comes in a giant economy size for your larger anti-metric-type gatherings: mumpsimuses.

Happy wording,

Linda

One thought on “Words on a Word

  1. Pingback: Communication, Lifelong Learning and the Metric System «

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