One day when I was at college, a classmate asked, “Did you know the word gullible is not in the Dictionary?” Like an idiot, I said, “Really?!” It took me a half hour to get the joke. I am a gullible person—or at least very trusting. So I hate April Fools Day. I’ll believe anything. But I assume you are not as gullible as I am.
I discovered an amazing book on word origins titled The Surprising History of Common Words by I. A. L. Diamond. I was particularly taken with these histories:
- Definition: a public institution in which offenders against the law are confined. History: People often assume that “pen” either refers to an enclosed structure as for a farm animal or is an abbreviation of the word penitentiary. In fact, it is an abbreviation, but for the word penultimate, as in: he is going to the penultimate before he goes somewhere else.
- Definition: easily duped or cheated. History: From the late 16th century popularity of “sea gull poker,” an easy mark was considered “seagullible.” The word was shortened to “gullible” in the 19th century during the great “sea” shortage, which caused great harm to the oceanographic sciences.
It turns out “seagullible” is not in the dictionary. Can you believe it?!