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Or Maybe My Family Is Just Very Strange?
January 19, 2012 9:14 AM   Subscribe

Is 'geewopperjod' a made-up word?

My mom describes things askew as being 'geewopperjod'. As in, "hon, come here, your tie is all geewopperjod". It is pronounced "jee-wop-er-jod". I assume that this is a completely fabricated word.

I am curious though - is this just a made-up word in my family? Is it a regional thing (we're in SW PA)? Is it a bastardization of a word from another language? Where could this word have come from?
posted by amicamentis to Writing & Language (16 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
In SW Virginia, the term is wompyjawed, which sounds so similar that I doubt it's coincidental.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:16 AM on January 19, 2012


That is, whompyjawed.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:17 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you Google "whopperjawed" and "whopperjaw" you get quite a few hits. It's clearly regional and not purely a family thing.
posted by yoink at 9:18 AM on January 19, 2012


A Google search returns no results, so I'm going to assume that it's a made-up word, in the sense that it has no written form. It may be a regionalism, but it doesn't appear to be common enough to have ever been put in writing until now (at least not using your spelling).

I figure that even the most obscure of regionalisms would likely have been put into writing once or twice, so given the lack of search results, I'm going to take a guess and say that this is just a word your mom (or someone in her family) invented.
posted by asnider at 9:19 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Whopper-Jawed? That's how I've always heard it
posted by mcrandello at 9:19 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I always heard it as whomperjawed from my Texan mother. Around here (East Tennessee) cattywumpus means the same thing.
posted by workerant at 9:20 AM on January 19, 2012


That said, all of the people suggesting "whompyjawed" (or variants thereof) may be on to something. Perhaps your mom's "geewopperjod" is a bastardization of the more common regionalism?
posted by asnider at 9:21 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


Aha!!!!!!! Metafilter, you have done it. Whompy-jawed! Wapperjawed! I never even thought of the 'jawed' aspect of the word. Oh, this puts my mind more at ease.
posted by amicamentis at 9:21 AM on January 19, 2012


Here's a World Wide Words article on "whopper-jawed". Here's a random genealogy forum post that uses "gee-whopper-jawed".
posted by Johnny Assay at 9:22 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


The brand-new fifth volume of the Dictionary of American Regional English (not released when Michael Quinion wrote the very good World Wide Words article written above) has a wide variety of variations:

whomper-jawed
wompy-jawed
whompy-jawed
womper-jawed
wompey-jaw
whopper-jawed
whomper-sided
whopper-sided
whompa-sided
womper-sided
whompny-jawed
whompsey-jawed
whopsy-jawed
wompny-jawed
whonker-jawed
whocker-jawed
wonky-jawed
whonky-jawed

That's not even starting on the dozens of variations on words which mean about the same, such squeejawed, slanchwise, antigogglin', sigoggling, and catawampus, and more.
posted by Mo Nickels at 9:27 AM on January 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


Mo Nickels: "That's not even starting on the dozens of variations on words which mean about the same, such squeejawed, slanchwise, antigogglin', sigoggling, and catawampus, and more."

Yeah, I heard catawampus/cattywumpus a good bit when I lived out in Lancaster County, PA.
posted by Chrysostom at 9:39 AM on January 19, 2012


I'll also note that "ge" (with a hard G, though), is a german prefix which "forms the past participle of some irregular verbs." Since you're in PA, that struck me as a possible source of the variation your mother uses.
posted by endless_forms at 9:47 AM on January 19, 2012 [5 favorites]


I too have heard "whopperjawed" -- Appalachia/western North Carolina. The "gee" part is interesting because of the German prefix, as endless_forms says above, but also sounds like another I-think-mostly-Appalachian term -- "gee" for "left" as in gee haw whimmy diddle.
posted by clavicle at 10:07 AM on January 19, 2012


Fun fact: "whompyjawed" also had to be decoded in a Metatalk thread: 1, 2, 3
posted by Adventurer at 10:16 AM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


I use the variant wapperjawed. (I also like and use cattywampus.)

My mother, who grew up on a farm in Indiana, uses them but usually humorously with an affected country accent. "What're you doin' all wapperjawed? Git in the car."

Or she used it refer to something cockeyed. "That picture is wapperjawed."
posted by griselda at 10:55 AM on January 19, 2012


Complete speculation: "gee" (pronounced the way you've described) is a command to a draft horse to turn right, which would fit as an additional descriptor for something being askew and might explain the extra syllable on your version of the word. I'm from southeastern PA and have never heard "whopperjawed" or any of the variations, though, so this is just a guess on my part.
posted by jessypie at 12:20 PM on January 19, 2012 [1 favorite]


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