I am grateful for the endless possibilities of language. This morning (before 7 am) my spouse and I were discussing the origins of the terms “Don’t be a nussbaum” and his memories of playing with army men with parachutes attached that they called “Ish Kabibble.” Alert: word derivation mysteries! The hunt is on. Where did these words originate and how did they enter our family lexicon? Not that we’ve discovered any answers.
Nussbaum means “nut tree” in German. It’s a last name. Martha Nussbaum is a distinguished philosopher and educator. But none of that explains our family use of the word (but researching Martha Nussbaum convinced me I need to learn more about her philosophy and read her books.)
Ish Kabibble? Look him up on Wikipedia. Fascinating! A study in how words are invented and spread over miles and across years. However, no reason is evident for naming army men Ish Kabibble. Steve believes he might have attached the name to them, but where would he have heard this term? (He’s not THAT old.)
Do you have familiar family phrases for which the origin is fuzzy? I am curious what they might be.
I truly LOVE searches like this. What a great way to start the day!