Smugness, a Etymological Analysis of Matt Gaetz’s Maledic[k]tions

If you know anything about language, you can tell immediately that the English adjective smug is of Anglo-Saxon origin. It’s short ­– one syllable – but certainly not sweet.  After all, smug rhymes with ugh, that imitative sound of a cough that over time evolved into an interjection of disgust, the involuntary mouthing you might make when running across roadkill or this photograph.

[As in the case of Melville’s detailed explanations of various aspects of cetology in Moby Dick, an impatient reader is advised to skip the next two paragraphs and pick up the prose following the book image below.]

In English, smug first appeared in the 1550s and meant “trim, neat, spruce, smart.” Smug and smock are the immigrant offspring of Middle Low German smücken, “to dress,” as in “to creep or slip into.” [1]  You smücken into a smock. Smücken itself comes from Low German smuk, which means “pretty,” even though it’s a homophone for the Yiddish word schmuck, which means dick, as in penis or schlong

I can’t speculate on why the Low German word for pretty sounds so ugly or how it morphed into the Yiddish word for penis, which over time came to mean “a contemptible person.” I would hazard to say, however, that smug people are generally schmucks.

Ugh, smug Matt Gaetz is a dick, an entitled asshole[2], the type of insecure Lothario who carves notches in his bedpost (i. e., flashes photos of sexual conquests to acquaintances from his cell phone), the type of scuzzball whose success stems from being the scion of a wealthy shitwad who made a fortune providing hospice care, the type of chuff who frat-boyed his way from prep school to Congress exuding entitlement like a princeling dipped in AxL. Obviously, anyone who behaves with such reckless abandon has never faced any real consequences for his misdeeds. 

And perhaps he’ll sidestep repercussions this time as well. After all, he’s hired Harlan Hill (pictured below) as his spokesperson.

But I wouldn’t bet on it. 

[Full Disclosure: over the years, some have accused me of smugness just because of my relaxed demeanor, because I’m trim, neat, and smart, but they are wrong. I’m just snazzy, that’s all[3]].  

the blogger, circa 1980

[1] etymonline.com

[2] C.f. https://wlm3.com/2017/10/25/my-favorite-vulgarity/

[3] I’d insert a “tongue-in-cheek” emoji here, but they all suck.