See also: podunk

English edit

Alternative forms edit

Etymology edit

From an Eastern Algonquian, likely Loup A, word or words. Similar names were applied to various small and generally unknown places. By the late 19th century the word came to mean an obscure small town, a use possibly popularized by Mark Twain (see quotation). Carlton[1] and Reed[2] survey similar place names and note a transformation from Potaecke to Potunke to Podunk. Carlton suggests a derivation from the adjective petukque ("round"). Tooker[3] compares Ojibwe petobeg (bog) (as Chippewa) and Abenaki poteba (to sink in the mire) and divides the word into pot- ("to sink") and -unk (locative). Algonquian expert Ives Goddard says[4] "We have no idea what the word means. You'll be able to find guesses in the sources if you look around. Don't believe any of it."

Pronunciation edit

Proper noun edit


  1. (US) Mythical small town of no importance. [from 19th c.]
    • 1869, Mark Twain, Mr. Beecher and the Clergy[3]:
      They even know it in Podunk, wherever that may be.
    • [1877, John Russell Bartlett, Dictionary of Americanisms[4], 4th edition, page 791:
      Podunk. A term applied to an imaginary place in burlesque writing or speaking.]
    • 1933 February 2, F. W. Buxton, Boston Herald:
      Podunk, like Atlantis, has no locus. Sought often, it is unfound and apparently unfindable.
    • 2007 November 15, Scott Miller, “This verdict's already in: Bonds won't hit No. 763”, in CBS Sports[5]:
      This isn't some Podunk charge in some Podunk court. Charged with four counts of perjury and one of obstruction of justice, Bonds, if convicted, could be sentenced to a maximum of 30 years in prison.

Synonyms edit

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See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ W. R. Carlton (1938 February) “Podunk”, in American Speech, volume 14, number 1, →JSTOR, pages 73-76
  2. ^ Allen Walker Reed (1938 February) “The Rationale of 'Podunk'”, in American Speech, volume 14, number 1, →JSTOR, pages 99-108
  3. ^ William Wallace Tooker (1911) “Potunk”, in The Indian place-names on Long island and islands adjacent, with their probable significations[1], pages 196-197
  4. ^ Leah Donnella (2019 September 20) “Some 'Podunk' Town In The Middle Of Nowhere”, in Code Switch: Word Watch[2]