Monday, July 28, 2003

Boy, does this one have me pegged...

Etymology Today from M-W: luftmensch \LOOFT-mensh ("OO" as in "foot")\
: an impractical contemplative person having no definite business or income

Are you someone who always seems to have your head in the clouds? Do you have trouble getting down to the lowly business of earning a living? If so, you may deserve to be labeled a "luftmensch." That airy appellation is an adaptation of the Yiddish "luftmentsh," which breaks down into "luft" (a Germanic root that can be tied linguistically to the English words "loft" and "lofty"), meaning "air," plus "mentsh," meaning "human being." "Luftmensch" was first introduced to English prose in 1907, when Israel Zangwill wrote "The word 'Luftmensch' flew into Barstein's mind. Nehemiah was not an earth-man . . . . He was an air-man, floating on facile wings."

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