humpty-dumpty

Word Origin & History

Humpty-dumpty
from Fr. nursery rhyme hero (the rhyme first attested in Eng. 1810), probably a reduplication of Humpty, a pet form of Humphrey. Originally, humpty-dumpty was a drink (1698), "ale boiled with brandy," probably from hump and dump, but the connection is obscure and there may not be one. Meaning "a short,
dumpy, hump-shouldered person" (1785) is attested earlier in Eng. than the nursery rhyme, though it may be from the notion of an anthropomorphic egg.
" 'It's very provoking,' Humpty Dumpty said, ... 'to be called an egg -- very!' " ["Through the Looking-Glass," 1872]
Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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