Oh boy, tonight on Twitter was a doozy.
Does that word, doozy, get used much anymore? Well, if it’s not so familiar, let me start by talking about what went down online. Twitter is where I get my breaking news first. So I was sitting at my computer listening to a Led Zeppelin live concert CD set and trying to do some research for a presentation when I started seeing tweets about Toronto’s dudebro-in-chief, Rob Ford, taking a leave of absence.
Why? He said it was to go to rehab. But as “Dazed and Confused” blazed and buzzed on my speakers I learned that someone had an audio tape of Ford – all drunk and woozy – saying some perfectly awful things this past Monday, including crude racist and sexist comments. Oh, and someone else has a video of him – dazed and dozy – smoking crack (not just a doobie) in his sister’s basement this past weekend. Then there was Justin Bieber asking him at Muzik where he could get crack. And some other stuff about nose candy at some event. Oh, and there may be a sex tape? Excuse me, I’m feeling queasy.
Oh, and plus also as well in addition too, the Raptors won their playoff series. Many of the usual suspects in Toronto politics were trying to enjoy the game when all this broke (ah, the dues they must pay!). The Raps blew a 20-point lead in the last quarter (there was speculation Rob Ford had put on a Raptors jersey) and won a knuckle-biter in overtime. Utterly dizzying.
So yeah, a doozy. But doozy doesn’t have any direct connection with dazed, dizzy, dozy, woozy, queasy, nose, or dude. It may gain some effect of their sound on the sense, of course, along with the effects of the big hollow [u] vowel, the start that’s like doom, the end that’s like crazy and so many other things, and maybe a bit of the buzz of the [z]. But it doesn’t come from them. Not that we’re entirely sure where it does come from.
What we do know (thanks to Oxford) is that the word first showed up in the early 1900s. And it meant, as it does now, ‘an impressive, remarkable, amazing, or unbelievable thing’. Also, it was used as an adjective first, and showed up as a noun soon after.
Beyond that, there are various ideas. It may have morphed from a sense of daisy meaning ‘first-rate person or thing’. It was very likely affected by the actress Eleonora Duse, who was at the height of her fame at the time the word became popular. But there was also another thing that gave it some drive – and a clear 1920s and ’30s taste.
That something was a car. Not just any car: this car was a doozy. I should say a Duesy. It was the Duesenberg, a high-performance luxury car that gained association with some rather famous owners, including tycoons, actors, and criminals. Its nickname naturally mutually reinforced with the already existing word doozy.
Duesenberg cars are long gone, alas. We have nice cars and all that now, but an era of glamorous style and design is gone, and with it are the tycoons, actors, and criminals of that age. Now we have to make do with a Ford. But that can still produce the occasional doozy.