Friday’s word of the day at dictionary.com is tub-thump. It was hyphenated at dictionary.com, but I also found it presenting as “tubthump”. i found it to be an odd word, conjuring up all sorts of word pictures, in my mind at least. Tub…could be a bath tub, which was first to come to mind, or a barrel-like tub, or as it’s etymology suggested a nickname for a cooper (one who makes barrels or coffins), or most telling, a 17th century slang word for a preacher’s pulpit. Then there is Thumper, which of course made me think of that cute little bunny in the Disney classic, “Bambi”. You know. He’s the one who said, “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” All the while thumping his big foot drawing attention to himself, hence the moniker, Thumper.
When I put all this together the definition makes perfect sense.A Tubthumper is one who vociferously expresses an opinion in a loud, attention-drawing way. The word is often associated with zealots, fire and brimstone preachers, politicians and the like. I even read an account of tubthumpers, actors, who literally banged on tubs while wandering the streets to drum up business. Reminds me of how circuses used to come to town back in the day, before civic centers and arenas, when kids trotted along behind the circus parade as it ambled through town, settling finally, in an open field where sawdust was scattered and the big top erected! Ah, but I digress.
There were a few other tidbits associated with the word. Its origin, according to dictionary.com:
Tub-thump, a very rare word, is a back formation of tub-thumper “a vociferous supporter of a cause.” The verb tub-thump was coined by the British author Herman C. McNeile (1888–1937), whose pen name was “Sapper,” and who wrote the series of thrillers whose hero was Bulldog Drummond. The only other author to use the verb tub-thump was the American poet and editor Ezra Pound (1885-1972). Tub-thump entered English in 1920.
And there was a 1997 song called “Tubthumper” by the British band Chumbawamba. They disbanded in 2012, but you may recognize this catchy tune if you were around in the late 90’s. Give it a listen HERE.
Here’s a Haiku, then. I can think of a few famous tubthumpers…can you?
Repent! The end is coming!
the end never comes