The Word Museum by Jeffrey Kacirk, Barnes & Noble, New York, 2000 is a marvelous tool for writers of historical fiction. Not only does it help find the right word for the occasion, it is good for a laugh or three.
For this week’s exploration into the amazing complexities of our language I have chosen SHAZZING.
Quite simply it means dancing. The reference given for the word is Wilkinson, John. A Leeds Dialect Glossary and Lore. London 1924.
For me this word is the epitome of onomatopoeia, words that sound like what they mean.
As a dancer, I find this word suggestive of shuffling jazz. Since the reference is from 1924, I presume the word was in common usage before that.
I picture street dancers trying to out-perform each other, much like modern street dancers with their hip hop or break dancing or locking or krumping. Imaginative steps to the newest music, jazz from New Orleans, clarinets and saxophones, funeral processions, and smoky nightclubs.
A brief Google search shows the term is still in use in Scotland for flamboyant performers in bright clothing.
From shuffling jazz dancing to exuberant show stopping performance art. Both street dancing. I can live with that.