more fun with words

today an undergrad friend from school was talking about something a professor said in class: "and if you're a crackpot linguist, you can one day write an article about how zuni is related to basque!" hahaha. well, you probably have to be a linguist to find that amusing, but my friend continued: "yeah, and he kept saying it throughout the class. he said 'if you're a crackpot linguist...' like eight times! i started feeling kind of bad, like that's not very nice to people who use crack."

pause. pause.

wait, what? what do people who use crack have to do with it? then it dawned on me that she had done this weird folk etymology which i confirmed with her: crack(head) + (sex)pot = crackpot. wow.

but then i realized...i don't know why crackpot means what it actually does mean. i faux-batted my eyes at will...oh, if ONLY someone around here had a laptop then we could figure it out (having just seen him using his in class).

crackpot (colloq.): A crack-brain, a crazy creature, a crank. (OED)

it turns out that there is this archaic expression pot of the head, meaning skull, cranium, or brainpan. i would consider this a metaphorical extension of pot (in the crockery sense) as a container for food to pot as a container for brain. if your food-pot gets cracked, your food might leak out or be ruined. if your brain-pot gets cracked, your intellect is lost or compromised. crackpot!

all that aside, how sweet is it that my friend was worried about the feelings of the people who use crack? berkeley kids are so great.