Monday, February 16, 2015

GOT THE DOLDRUMS YET?

by Kate Collins

For much of the United States, winter has hit in a big way, with too much snow, frigid temperatures, and wind gusts that make it unpleasant to step outside. A week or two I can take, but when it drags on and on, I can feel the doldrums setting in. Have they hit you, too?

I was thinking about that word today – doldrums. It’s obviously plural so it made me wonder: Can one have a single doldrum or do they only come in sets?

 As is usually the case when I ponder a word, I have to look it up to see when it originated and why. So I hoisted my ginormous Webster’s New Universal Unabridged Dictionary off the shelf and began my research.

Doldrums, n. 1. a state of inactivity or stagnation as in business or art; 2. The doldrums, a belt of calm and light baffling winds north of the equator between the northern and southern trade winds in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans; 3. A dull, listless, depressed mood; low spirits. (1795-1805. )Obscure origins, dold, stupid (see dolt) + rum(s) (pl) n. suffix (see trantrum).

Three observations: 1. Why are the winds baffling? Can no one figure out where they come from? Why isn’t there an explanation? Must I look up baffling, too? (See tongue-in-cheek comments.)

2. The word doldrum originated from another word meaning stupid plus a suffix. Would that be stupid-ish? Stupid-ment? Again, no explanation. Come on, Mr. Webster, I need more!

3. Doldrums is preceded by: Dolce vita, Italian, sweet life; the good life perceived as one of physical pleasure and self-indulgence (usually preceded by la). Ergo, I would surmise that too much la dolce vita can bring forth a case of the doldrums. Wait. A pair? A set? A flock?

But I digress.

Digress v.i. 1. To deviate or wander away from the main topic or purpose in speaking or writing; depart from the principal line of argument, plot, study, etc.  (1520-30) L. Digressus, ptp of digredi to go off, depart.

But I di . . . Anyway, back to the origins of doldrums, and having been told to see tantrum, I looked up tantrum, only to discover this: Tantrum, n. a violent demonstration of rage or frustration; a sudden burst of ill temper. 1740-50, orig. uncert.

Seriously? Explanation?

Here’s my theory. The reason that tantrum is associated with doldrums is because they both end with rum, which, when consumed, may help one forget the doldrums and/or calm the tantrum resulting from not finding enough of an explanation from a dictionary entry!

 A final observation: If you will note, the word digress, which is widely popular now, originated in the early fifteen hundreds. So if you think you’re really with it when you pause to say, “But I digress,” think again. You’re much better off using a really cool phrase like “Easy peasy,” or “Glam-glam” or “Par-tay!”  Am I right?

Ennui: French, n. a feeling of utter weariness and discontent resulting from satiety or lack of interest; boredom. 1660-70, Syn: listlessness, tedium, lassitude, languor.

Someone hand me the rum.

Kate

P.S. As part of our Cozy Chicks Love Pets Valentine’s Day celebration, one person will be chosen from the comments on this blog to receive a special gift – a donation to your favorite animal shelter/animal charity group.



37 comments:

Malka E said...

um…. did you par tay, um.. i mean partake of the rum, before settling down with websters?
Best wishes to most of the eastern parts of the country! doldrums or not, it seems to be COLD!

Lynda Turpin said...

I don't often pick up a physical dictionary (I usually just take a quick look online) but when I do use a dictionary, I have a tendency to go from word to word, like you did. The dictionary can actually be an interesting read when you don't want to concentrate too much.

Fred said...

Since I haven't indulged in rum or similar type beverages for almost twenty four years, I will have to go with a state of inactivity. Since retiring I have been able to deal with the snowfall a lot better. LOL We seem to be having an average winter as far as snow fall goes. But the temperatures and the winds of the last couple weeks have been brutal. They have also seem to have gotten to my Westie also, as he has been taking care of business in record time, well, for him.

Kate Collins said...

LOL, Malka. Love your play on words. Sadly, no rum at hand. However, I've got my eye on a bottle of Cabernet.

Kate Collins said...

Exactly, Lynda! I could keep wandering from word to word for hours. Especially enjoy the etymology aspect.

Kate Collins said...

Those frigid, never-ending temperatures and strong winds of the last two years have been brutal for our area, Fred. I think both of us are in that snow belt from Lake Michigan and that seems to be one of the factors. I'm ready for spring!

Karen in Ohio said...

2. The doldrums, a belt of calm and light baffling winds north of the equator between the northern and southern trade winds in the Atlantic and Pacific oceans;

This is when ships get becalmed, and they have to loll around, waiting for the wind to pick up. Sort of the way we're all sitting around and waiting for the weather to improve.

Robert Giddings said...

Winter in West Michigan consist of 5 months of grey, dreariness. The occaisional sunny days only bring on bitter cold. Thank you for the group Saturday, nice break if just for a couple of hours. It is up to a balmy 1 above this morning. Rock on everyone.

Kate Collins said...

So ships get the doldrums, too, is what you're saying, Karen? ;-)

Kate Collins said...

We try, Robert. Glad you enjoyed it.

Sue said...

I'm overcome by the doldrums and so are my beagles. We are bored,, bored, bored. I can read a good book to help lift my spirits but the poor beagles can't. We are just hoping that we don't get record snows in March because so far just a lot of grey but not much snow here in Minnesota.
suefarrell.farrell@gmail.com

Karen in Ohio said...

Yep!

Jeannie D. said...

I think the boredom bothers my husband the most. He works outside, but with the brutal cold, snow and now ice, he can't. It drives him crazy which in turn drives me crazy. Maybe that is where Tantrum comes in? Lol!

Kate Collins said...

I know exactly how you feel, Sue. So much of the Minn/Wis/Ill/IN area is gray for weeks at a time. Wouldn't it be nice to have a big play area for adults? How about a ball pit? I saw one on GMA for adults. Looked like fun. Not so much for dogs probably.

Kate Collins said...

Yes, Jeannie, it sure is, and that is where the RUM comes in. LOL.

Gram said...

Since we have had - to quote Jim Cantore of the Weather Ch. two winter's worth of snow in 23 days, my doldrums would be deep if I didn't have a fireplace and books to read in front of. I'm just happy I do not have to drive in it every day since I retired.

Aurian said...

I would certainly prefer some of the ice and snow you are having over the grey days we are having here in Holland. Snow never lasts for more than one day. I would love to experience half a meter of snow at least once....
I had the doldrums last weekend, nothing I really wanted to do, no book or internet site captured my attention. I ended up watching old episodes of Storage Hunters and Auction Hunters.

Kate Collins said...

Isn't that the best thing about retirement? Looking out the window and thinking, "I don't have to get out in that!"

Kate Collins said...

Gray days are the worst! We get those with our snow and wind. When the sun finally comes out, it's beautiful. With that said, I'd still prefer to see my green lawn and flowers!

Annette Naish said...

I live in Austin, so there are no huge blizzards. But, at times the grey days last too long and they make me sink - into a time when I do not feel like doing anything. I like the sun. I believe that is because in another life I was a lizard who spent the day lounging on a hot rock. Love those hot rocks.

Kaye Killgore said...

Here in Portland, OR we're all waiting for the other shoe to drop. It's been too nice, too warm, and not wet enough for too long.
kaye dot killgore at comcast dot net

Kate Collins said...

Hmm. Then maybe I was a chaise lounge in my previous life.

Kate Collins said...

And there is always another shoe. Enjoy it while it lasts!

Debbie LaFleiche said...

How can I not write a comment when my favorite pet charity might get a donation? Here in Alaska, we are having the warmest winter on record. The east coast has gotten all of our snow this year. The skiers are complaining and you might have heard they Iditarod dog sled race had to be moved farther north due to lack of snow; lack of snow and warmer temperatures makes it a lot harder on the dogs so it was a wise move.

Looking forward to summer, but then again I say that every year!

ezreader said...

Perhaps one can be in a doldrum?? Hmmm, my spell check keeps changing it to doldrums so maybe not!! Lol. Kathy Meik
Kate, I think your donation idea is a wonderful thing to do!!

Anonymous said...

I agree with Kaye because I live in Metro Portland. I'm afraid that we will keep having warm temps and sunny skies and have no snow pack in the mountains which will bring drought. Maybe my reason for the doldrums is our governor who announced he will resign on Wednesday and is being investigated by both state agencies and the feds. Cordella

Margaret said...

We had a very mild December here is NYS Capital District and the first two weeks of January were not bad, but the cold set in late January and we have had 2 pretty big snow falls in February (both about 12 inches) and still cold. So YES! all of the above stated definitions apply to me. But, I try to look on the bright side, days are getting longer and we will be changing the clocks in a couple of weeks. March 1 is two weeks away and Spring is four weeks. Unfortunately the bright side only gets me so far!
Unfortunately I don't drink alcohol, but a Dunkin Donut Brownie Batter Donut should work fine!

Rachelle21 said...

I have found that taking Vitamin D has kept me from feeling bad about the weather. I get out as much as I can.I even found trace mineral salt that they said was safe for animals to put on the ice.

Kate Collins said...

Vitamin D helps me, too, Rachelle. I'm a big believer in taking a large dose (always with Vitamin K for absorption) for its immune system benefits.

Kate Collins said...

Oh, yum. You've got my mouth watering. I'd say that's a good substitute! And actually, the only rum I drink is in a mojito. LOL

Kate Collins said...

Debbie, I was up in Alaska last summer and got to visit a dog sled camp where they train for the Iditarod. Fascinating! I got to cuddle puppies, too. Are you happy that the winters have been milder?

Kate Collins said...

Thanks, Kathy. I donate to three already and always love helping animals. They're my favorite charity actually.

Kate Collins said...

Oh, Cordella, that's too bad about your governor. I'll gladly donate mine. (see tongue-in-cheek).

Shirley said...

It's been really cold for Baltimore. I'm retired so I don't have to go out. I'm getting a lot of sewing done. But I'm looking forward to nicer weather so I can ride my bicycle.

Debbie LaFleiche said...

Hi Kate, Lots of Alaska love their winter sports but, after 20 years, I love a milder winter. The only hard part is when temperatures get above freezing because then things melt...when they refreeze again everything is like an ice skating rink. When I first moved here that almost never happened, now it's a fairly regular occurrence. Glad you enjoyed your trip here. It is a beautiful state!

Kate Collins said...

DEBBIE, YOU WON!! YOU'RE the winner of today's blog drawing! Please contact me via Facebook message about which animal charity you'd like me to donate to. CONGRATULATIONS!!

Debbie LaFleiche said...

Hi Kate, I don't have a facebook account so I contacted you through your website. I wanted to double check that you received the email. Friends of Pets (in Alaska) will put the donation to good use.