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Doofunny, Dofunny

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Nikki in Northampton, Massachusetts, wonders about a term her dad used for someone who’s a little odd or weird: do funny. As far back as the 1850s, Do funny or Doo funny was an amusing last name for characters in satire, whether in newspapers or onstage. Over time it joined a category of terms known as indefinite specifics, words that include doohickey, thingamajig, and whatchamacallit. Starting in the 1920s, there was a play called The Doo-Funny Family (Bookshop|Amazon) that was performed around the country, featuring slapstick and broad humor. In the African-American community, the term has also meant “a gay man.” This is part of a complete episode.

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