[lit-ideas] Re: Pomegranate

  • From: David Ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Thu, 03 Jun 2004 09:10:11 -0700

on 6/2/04 6:00 PM, Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx at Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx wrote:

> In a message dated 6/2/2004 8:52:46 PM Eastern Standard Time,
> judithevans001@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx writes:
> US>  Still googling "poms" in my continuing effort to understand.
> Poms  (Pommie, Pommie *******) is Oz for Brit!
> -- The OED has it as 'origin obscure', poss. related to 'pomegranate'.  Below.
> Cheers,
> JL
> ---

Here's Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English" on
the subject, which returns the issue to the question I raised in "Doing the
Dishes," (5/20/04, "Sunday's Monday Poem"; "Tams," by the way, are Scottish
hats, "Tam O'Shanters") which I now repost to save you the trouble of
looking it up--what is the origin of "pom poms," the things cheerleaders
wave? :

Doing the Dishes

I rightly heard tom toms' honey matter pier.
It's from an ancient Hindustani beat:
the tam tams of East India,
changed to accommodate the English,
who never liked our hats.

But pom poms?
Dwarf pommels from Pomerania,
harvested from ho-ed beds,
to give good cheer?

No clue.


German cheerleaders.
The mind boggles.

pommy, Pommy.  A newcomer from Britain, esp. from England: Australian: from
ca. 1910, or a few years earlier.  The O.E.D. (Sup) records it at 1916, but
it was current before the Great War.  Origin obscure: possibly pommy is a
corruption of Tommy; perhaps an importation by Australian soldiers returning
from the Boer War (1899-1902) and amused by pom-pom (?pom-pommy>pommy),--cf.
Woodbines, the Diggers' name for the Tommies; perhaps a jocularly
'perverted' blend of Jimmy n., 2 (q.v.) + Tommy: Jim Doone thinks it is a
combination of immigrant and pomegranate, ex ruddy fruit and cheeks; Dr.
Randolph Hughes much more pertinently suggests that it derives from
'Pomeranian, a very superior sort of "dawg"', or from Ger. Pommer, the
same--there being many German settlers in Australia.

In a later entry Partridge added:

pommy. 'It is popularly believed that the term pommy...is a  direct
descendant of jimmygrant [see Jimmy Grant, both in Dict. and in Add.], via
jimmy-granate: pomegranate, to pommy,' B. 1941,--which, fused with Jim
Doone's theory, furnishes what is probably the correct explanation.  Russell
Braddon, however, in his preface to the English edition (1958) of Nino
Culotta's "They're a Weird Mob," thinks that the name is 'a compliment to
your'--i.e. British--'complexions, because it comes from the French word
pommes, which means apples'.

The entry on "Jimmy Grant" says that it's rhyming slang for "immigrant,"
originally (1845) a New Zealand usage.

So there you have it.  Scottish emigration to New Zealand creates "Jimmy
Grant."  Australians, particularly those who had been in the Boer and First
World Wars, wanting to express independence from Brits, blend Kiwi (New
Zealand) slang with thoughts about snobby dogs and fleshy, red complexions,
and lo an epithet is born.

Isn't it odd there's so much soft fruit involved here: pomegranate, kiwi,
limey!  Among persons, hardness is all, I suppose.

David Ritchie
Portland, Oregon

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