Tuesday, February 10, 2009
Buttons, Beans, and The Blogosphere's State of Investigative Prowess
My inner etymologist surfaces: the movie Coraline has apparently flooded the internet with questions about the origin of the word for "fear of buttons," koumpounophobia. The biggest question is what is its origin and is it a "real" word or something that Neil Gaiman made up ? It's real: it comes from the modern Greek word for "to button," κουμπούνω, (koumpouno) which comes from the ancient Greek word for "bean" (κύαμος, kuamos), which makes sense, because the ancients didn't have buttons, but some buttons resemble beans, + πονέω (poneo), "to work hard." So you can see where the modern Greek word comes from. Check any modern Greek dictionary, attach "-phobia" to the noun form, and you've got yourself, well, a legitimately rooted word. I wasn't going to write a separate entry, but this got to me, reading the silliness out there. I fear for our nation if people can't do basic research. Goodnight.