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    That Folly-Fallen Lewdster, the Times

    scumbaggin.jpgQuote:  "As for scumbag, I’m dumbfounded—and also just plain dumb I guess.  I was totally ignorant of its vulgar side."  Crossword puzzle writer Lynn Lempel in Haloscan.

    Figure of Speech: cacemphaton (cak-EM-pha-ton), foul language.  Also polyptoton (po-LIP-to-ton), the root-word repeater.

    The answer to 43 Down in Monday’s New York Times crossword puzzle was SCUMBAG. That’s a cacemphaton ("foul sounding"), a nasty figure based on one of humanity’s oldest words: cak, meaning excrement.

    The puzzle’s creator apologizes with a polyptoton, a figure that repeats the root of a word with a different word: "dumbfounded" (struck dumb; speechless) and "dumb" (stupid or ignorant).

    Technically, though, "scumbag" only qualifies as a cacemphaton when the user (presumably an etymologist or someone over 50) knows the original definition: a used condom.

    Snappy Answer:  "Why, you knotty-pated fustilarian!"

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