Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Newfoundland Word of the Day

Humpty

Know what it is? Go into any furniture store on the mainland and ask for one, go on, I double dog dare ya. You will get some looks, and quite possibly some interesting offers.

A humpty is a foot rest or ottoman. How exactly Newfoundlanders came up with the name humpty for this cushioned piece, I have no idea. And I am not sure I want to speculate.

Anyone know?

11 comments:

WhitbyDude01 said...

I did some searching around the internet and the closest I could find was a "Sir Humpty" toddler Ottoman from a California based company owned by Casey Casem (american top 40) and his wife.

There doesn't seem to be any other connection to the word humpty except for the one from the nursery rhyme (Humpty Dumpty) which in turn was based on a historical figure from England who was some kind of sniper who was shot off a wall. The man was known for his "corpulence"(obesity).

English settlers in Newfoundland probably idenitifed the word "Humpty" with being fat and rounded and simply used it to described different kinds of footrests until it ended up being common usage for any kind of footrest.

..maybe

Anonymous said...

I bought an ottoman at Sears a couple of years ago here in Moncton. We bought a couch set and I asked how much extra for a humpty. I got a strange look so I asked for the price of an ottoman.

The funny thing is that my wife, a Newfoundlander through and through, didn't know any other word for it. A humpty is a humpty, just like an apple is an apple.

nadinebc said...

Ha! That is too funny.

Jo said...

I have a humpty! Funny thing, my kids call it an ottoman.

Jay said...

Does your 'Humpty' sit near the 'Chesterfield'?

nadinebc said...

Why yes Jay it does!

Anonymous said...

I have no idea where it came from, but I know my Dad has one....lol.
Stephanie

Unknown said...

I recently went looking for a Humpty and figured I better use the word ottoman when I spoke to my mainlander friends about it. I even laughed when I said ottoman and had to tell them the first word that came to my mind - HUMPTY!!! I Love our language!!!

Anonymous said...

In New Zealand growing as a young child in the 1960s we had a humpty and I never new it as anything else until I met my wife who called it a puff. Ottoman is a word I first came across about 2000. My mother's family settled in NZ in 1840 from Scotland, so humpty might have a Scottish connectio?

Unknown said...

We had a couple of Humpties in our living room when we were growing up. I have no idea where the name comes from but we never called them anything else. We would turn them on edge and roll around on them. Our parents did not allow that, so we did it when they weren't watching!

Ryan Hellyer said...

The term humpty is also used in New Zealand. If you Google for "humpty footstool" you will find almost all of the suppliers are based there.

I was looking this up today, because I mentioned the idea of a humpty to someone and they had no idea what it meant. So I started Googling to find if it's a kiwi specific term, which it seemed to be until finding your article suggesting that it's a Newfoundland specific term.