Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Tought (for Thought, Taught, or Tough)

I tuned in briefly to an episode of The Beverly Hillbillies the other night just in time to catch a lovely bit of inspired wordplay. Granny (Irene Ryan) is in a dreamy reverie about a matinee idol named Bull Montana and wistfully comments: "I thought a lot of Bull..." Uncle Jed (Buddy Ebsen) sighs as if he's been hearing about this for far too long now: "You still do, Granny." The phrase "thought a lot of" can mean both to have held in high regard and to have regarded often. Granny apparently did both, as most of us frankly do when pondering our own hopeless crushes. However, in this case it seemed that Granny was trying to make a suitor from Hooterville jealous and the "bull" in question may have been exactly what she was shooting. The Beverly Hillbillies was a farcical fount of such one-way pining, most notably that of the prim Miss Hathaway for the hunky lunkhead Jethro Bodine, and pretty much everyone else for his delightfully indifferent and bodacious cousin Elly May Clampett. Today's typo is food for thought as well, seeing as how it can also mean taught or tough. There are 17 records containing this typo in OhioLINK, and 393 in WorldCat.

(Publicity photo of Buddy Ebsen and Irene Ryan from The Beverly Hillbillies episode "The Clampetts in Washington," which aired September 22, 1970, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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