Martin Gardner, The Annotated Alice:
Grave or serious.
(hence solemome, solemone, and solemn) ‘grave’.
Oxford English Dictionary, 2nd ed.:
Obs. An aunt. c1440 Promp. Parv. 342/1 Mome, or awnte [Pynson faders suster. Mome, or aunte, moderssyster].
Obs. exc. arch. ‘A dull blockish fellow’ (Phillips, ed. Kersey 1706): a blockhead, dolt, fool. 1553 Respublica I. iv. 348 An honest mome; ah, ye dolt, ye lowte, ye Nodye. 1560 INGELEND Disob. Child Giijb, And me her husbande as a starke mome, With knockyng and mockynge she wyll handell. 1573 TUSSER Husb. (1878) 139 Ill husbandrie spendeth abrode like a mome. 1584 R. SCOT Discov. Witchcr. VII. xii. (1886) 118 Saule saw nothing, but stood without like a mome. 1590 SHAKES. Com. Err. III. i. 32 Mome, Malthorse, Capon, Coxcombe, Idiot, Patch. 1609 DEKKER Gvlls Horne-bk. 5 Grout-nowles and Moames will in swarmes fly buzzing about thee. 1656 S. H. Gold. Law 23 And yet like senseless Momes, sit still. 1719 D’URFEY Pills I. 147 Joan lisping her Liquor scatters, And Nelly hiccoupping calls her Mome. 1721 — Two Queens Brentford IV. i, At this the Knight look’d like a Mome. 1881 A. J. DUFFIELD Don Quix. I. p. cxix, But if thou cook a kind of fare That not for every mome is fit, Be sure that fools will nibble there. 1923 E. SITWELL Bucolic Comedies 17 An old dull mome With a head like a pome. transf. 1736 in Lediard Life Marlborough III. 438 But let their molten Mome of Triumph stand, And blush, tho’ Brass, at Marlbro’s mighty Hand.
a. A carping critic (obs.). b. nonce-use. A buffoon, jester. 1563 Mirr. Mag., Wilful Fall Blacksmith xiv, I dare be bolde a while to play the mome, Out of my sacke some others faultes to lease, And let my owne behinde my backe to peyse. 1652 A. ROSS Hist. World Pref. 4 [It is] farre more easie to play the Mome then the Mime, to reprehend, then to imitate. 1652 — View all Religions (1655) To Rdr., These censorious Momes. 1676 MOXON Print Lett. 4 My Pains and Endeavours may lie under the Censure of Detracting Momes. 1902 Q. Rev. Oct. 465 Samuel Rogers..could still describe the Italian mome as one ‘Who speaks not, stirs not, but we laugh;..Arlecchino’.
A factitious word introduced by ‘Lewis Carroll’ (see quot. 1855). Also occurs in Through the Looking-Glass (1871) i. 21. 1855 ‘L. CARROLL’ Rectory Umbrella & Mischmasch (1932) 139 All mimsy were the borogoves; And the mome raths outgrabe. Ibid. 140 Mome (hence solemome, solemone and solemn), ‘grave’. 1960 M. GARDNER Annotated Alice 195/1 ‘Mome’ has a number of obsolete meanings such as mother, a blockhead,..none of which, judging from Humpty Dumpty’s interpretation, Carroll had in mind. 1970 R. D. SUTHERLAND Lang. & Lewis Carroll vii. 149 Humpty Dumpty is reporting the generally accepted meanings… The information he imparts is ‘as sensible as a dictionary’… He admits some difficulty with mome.
variant of MALM a. dial., soft.« Back to Glossary Index