“The other evening, Samuel Hargress, Jr., disfawdled himself from his perch outside this uptown jazz dive to greet a pair of newcomers….” –First sentence of a one-paragraph review of a bar.
Disfawdled! When I saw the word, I had to look it up. On the internet, sadly, I found a grand total of one person had remarked on this usage. But the reaction was the same.
The New Yorker dropping the word "disfawdled" like it's no big deal. pic.twitter.com/1URSexj7fq
— Andrew Russeth (@AndrewRusseth) May 4, 2016
Upon further Googling, the usage appeared to be a deep-cut reference to Jack Kerouac’s “The Railroad Earth.” Judging by the lack of any other results, Kerouac invented the word to described life in the flophouse where he lived when he worked as a railroad brakeman. The internet revealed no other results.
I put the light out on the sad dab mad grub little diving room and hustle out into the fog of the flow, descending the creak hall steps where the old men are not yet sitting with Sunday morn papers because still asleep or some of them I can now as I leave hear beginning to disfawdle to wake in their rooms with their moans and yorks and scrapings and horror sounds, I’m going down the steps to work, glance to check time of watch with clerk cage clock.
Hard to figure etymology for a near stream-of-consciousness invention. Dawdle, maybe. Says the Online Etymology Dictionary of dawdle: “1650s, perhaps a variant of daddle ‘to walk unsteadily.’ Perhaps influenced by daw, because the bird was regarded as sluggish and silly. Not in general use until c. 1775.”
Reminder to self: Anyone can invent a word.