Lexicon Valley

Sicko, Whacko, Weirdo

The -o suffix traces back to old comic strip characters with names like Knocko and Groucho. Neato!

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Episode Notes

In 1904, cartoonist Gus Mager created a newspaper comic strip about a group of simian-faced folks called the Monks (as in, you know, monkey). Knocko, Peddlo, Henpecko, and the rest became so popular that the -o suffix soon spread to words up and down the English language. Legend has it that Mager’s characters even inspired the Marx Brothers’ nicknames. Ain’t that neato!

Podcast production by Mike Vuolo.

About the Show

If you’ve ever had curious thoughts and questions about the ways we speak, read, and write, Lexicon Valley is the show for you. Hosted by linguist John McWhorter.

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