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I post on Monday with an occasional random blog thrown in for good measure. I do my best to answer all comments via email and visit around on the days I post.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Origins - Whippersnapper

Last time we looked into the origin of fuddy-duddy. So it only stands to reason that we should learn a little bit about the word whippersnapper.

It was all new to me.

Image by  Nelipot at

The word whippersnapper (as you probably know) describes a young person who is impertinent, lazy, and who lacks motivation. One usually hears it coming out of the mouth of an old fuddy-duddy.

What does snapping a whip have to do with being lazy, when cracking the whip has to do with demanding obedience?

Apparently, back in the 17th century there were young men who were ne'er do wells. To pass the time they loitered around on street corners and idly snapped whips.

It didn't take long for people to start calling them whippersnappers.      

Synonyms include:
a nobody, a nothing, boldface, brat, brazenface, chutzpanik, cipher, common man, dummy,
elf, enfant terrible, figurehead, gamin, holy terror, hussy, imp, jackstraw, juvenile delinquent, lightweight,
little fellow, little guy, little monkey, malapert, man of straw, minx, nebbish, ne'er do well, nonentity, nullity, pip-squeak, puck, punk, punk kid, pup, puppy, runt, saucebox, scrub, shrimp, small fry, small potato, small potatoes, smart aleck, smart-ass, smarty, smarty-pants, spoiled brat, squirt, squit, swaggerer, upstart, urchin, whiffet, wise guy, wise-ass, zero, zilch

You can learn a bit more about whippersnapper here.

Got any whippersnappers in your home?


  1. My two are not whippersnappers thank goodness. In fact, they put me to shame :-)

  2. Interesting! Fortunate for me, no whippersnapper or otherwise here.

  3. That's fascinating--guys standing around snapping whips. Who knew? No whippersnappers in my house, unless I count the whip-flinging cat.

  4. Huh. I had no idea. I have always wondered about the whip snapping, which always struck me as being the opposite of what it means.

    Love the pic.

  5. Ah, I love etymology! Always so enlightening. Thanks!

  6. I never knew that! Now I gotta go find fuddy duddy...

  7. That's so cool! I love learning the origin of words.

  8. Funny, but I never thought that a whippersnapper was someone who was lazy or unmotivated. Impertinent, smart, sassy ... gee, what do I know. I'm just a young whippersnapper myself :)


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