You learn something every day, and today we learn that Calvin and Hobbes didn't come up with 'transmogrify'

We learn that thanks to Judge Bruce M. Selya, who sits on the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston.

Selya is known for his interesting use of English in the decisions he writes for the court. And in a ruling issued yesterday involving a company suing its former accountant, he writes:

Specifically, they point out that by reclassifying the transfers to Rosalie Berger as salary payments, the net profit previously reflected on RTR's books was transmogrified into a net loss of nearly $1,500,000.

Interesting - a judge who quotes Calvin and Hobbes. Not something you see every day. Only on further research, it turns out the word's first known use was in 1656. Who knew?



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      Who knew?

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      Literate people ... you know, the ones who read John Calvin and Thomas Hobbes, as well as Bill Watterson.

      Transmogrify is a far more cromulent a word than even embiggen.

      Hey, now

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      I love this post, being a book nerd. And anon, I literally am paid to read and I have not read Calvin nor Hobbes in the original. Though I have read Calvin and Hobbes many times. And I dare say I would win a literate-off if such a contest existed. And because I am literate, word history is interesting!

      Sometimes humor has trouble

      Sometimes humor has trouble getting through fiber optic cable - is this tongue in cheek? The word isn't all that uncommon. On the other hand, the pop culture reference is lost on me.


      Click on the Calvin and Hobbes link

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      Not being tongue in cheek here - I really had never heard of the word before seeing it in the comic strip back in the day and assumed modern references all stemmed from that, rather than from Hobbes (a rather depressing figure whom, yes, I read a bit of) and Calvin (a rather depressing figure whom, no, I'd never read).

      Wouldn't surprise me, but ...

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      The judge loves peppering his rulings with words that are somewhat archaic even in the legal world. Just in that one decision, he also uses:

      • plethoric
      • scumbled
      • This suggestion comprises more cry than wool.

      Classic example of when not

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      Classic example of when not to use "you" and "we" in reporting when what you really mean is "I."

      A quick Google search informs

      A quick Google search informs me that most people writing today use the word to impress rather than enlighten. When transmogrify is synonymous with transform, you may as well use transform. Transmogrify suggests a magical transformation - something strange or wondrous. The contemporary uses I found would work just as well with 'changed into' substituted.

      I'm not a Harvard graduate

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      didn't major in English [I'm a 2nd year drop-out], have never read Calvin and Hobbes, but am well aware of the word and it's meaning.