One of these days I will actually follow through with my plans to write Word Wednesday a couple of days ahead of time and avoid the anxiety associated with my self-imposed deadline. However, in keeping with tradition here I am at 9:50pm on Wednesday night frantically searching the internet for the subject of the Madhouse’s next etymology lesson.
Today, or more appropriately, tonight I have randomly selected the word “spastic” and its variants “spazz” or “spaz”. When I was growing up we used the term “spazz” to define someone who was overreacting. ie: Timmy decides to ride his bike down the Honda Hill and Robbie says he’ll tell Timmy’s mom if he does. Timmy says “Robbie, don’t be such a spazz.” I still use the term when my daughter overreacts to situations, which she does…a lot. However, after the research I’ve done I’m not sure if “spazz” will continue to be a part of my regular vocabulary.
spastic: 1753, from the Latin spasticus, from the Greek. spastikos “afflicted with spasms,” literally. “drawing, pulling,” from span “draw up” (see spasm). The noun meaning “a person affected with spastic paralysis” is attested from 1896.
spaz: also spazz, by 1965, U.S. teen slang, apparently a derogatory shortening of spastic. Also used as a verb.
My research led me to much crueler definitions at Urban Dictionary which makes this claim – “Urban Dictionary is the dictionary you wrote. Define your world“. The following definitions were written by Urban Dictionary users.
from user akminder – Someone who walks with their head angled 30-45 degrees to the side, one of their arms in a crooked position, their feet turned inwards (like Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects), walking down a street, with the occasional noise (like that dude in Cube) “Errrrrahhhhhhhh”.
Whenever Dave did something stupid, we’d do the spastic impression on him “Errrrrahhhhhhhh”.
from user DiiKaBaKa – (I thought this was quite tame)1. Relating to, of the same nature as, or characterized by involuntary muscular contractions, esp. the long-continued contractions known as tonic spasms.
2. A person afflicted by such spasms; a person suffering from cerebral palsy.“Christine is very spastic.”from user Matt Bateman-(I left the spelling errors in. It’s not considered a direct quote otherwise)1) A retarded person not to be laughed at in a cruel and heartless manner.2) A brave person.3) An insulting name given to a mentally or physically handicapped person.Person 1: I’ve just spilt gravy over my X-Box.
Person 2: Dude, you are such a spastic.
Person 1: That’s out of order, don’t say that.
Person 2: Sorry, I meant to say you are a ‘Practicality challanged person’.from user DarkFoxFurre – (Again, spelling errors are not mine)also known as spazz or spaz, means to act like you have ADD (Attention Deficite Disorder) . Usually bouncing off the walls.from user J E B U S – (I didn’t think it could get more degrading, but wait)A complete retard who does not know what they are doing and make weird noises like “Mur Mur ehhrreehr”Convo between Bob and a Spastic:Bob: Hi you spaz.Spastic: MurHurDurHurDurHur!!
Bob: O…Kay i’ll just agree with you.
Spastic: Meuurheerr, can i hug youu?A spastic joke:What do you call a spastic in a wheelchair?
Anything you want, they”ll just smile and try to hug you.
I’m trying to imagine that these users are young and immature. That their adolescent descriptions are meant to be humourous. I can’t help but wonder though, are they only this cruel in the faceless world of the web? Or somewhere out there, in the real world, is someone being made to suffer live and in person by their maliciousness? I shudder at the thought.