Skip to content

Whopping: Word Wednesday

“You whopping liar,” was a rebuke often heard in my childhood when someone had been found out telling ‘porkies.’ [Cockney rhyming slang  ‘porky pie’ = lie]

I was surprised to learn that Merriam-Webster has its origins dated  back to c. 1625. My instincts (wrongly) told me it was a relatively modern word.

adjective whop·ping \ˈhwä-piŋ, ˈwä-\
Popularity: Bottom 40% of words
Simple Definition of whopping
: very large, impressive, etc.

Full Definition 
: extremely large; also : extraordinary, incredible

Examples in a sentence
The play was a whopping success.
The car sped by at a whopping 110 miles per hour.

First Known Use 
circa 1625
astronomical (also astronomic), Brobdingnagian, bumper, colossal, cosmic

Let’s take a closer look at its origins:

Etymology references

Collins Dictionary:
whopping | whop | wop | less commonly whap
First use: 14th century
Origin: variant of wap, perhaps of imitative origin

The last word about “whopping’ is left to Bill Byron:

“Distance changes utterly when you take the world on foot. A mile becomes a long way, two miles literally considerable, ten miles whopping, fifty miles at the very limits of conception. The world, you realize, is enormous in a way that only you and a small community of fellow hikers know. Planetary scale is your little secret.

Life takes on a neat simplicity, too. Time ceases to have any meaning. When it is dark, you go to bed, and when it is light again you get up, and everything in between is just in between. It’s quite wonderful, really.

You have no engagements, commitments, obligations, or duties; no special ambitions and only the smallest, least complicated of wants; you exist in a tranquil tedium, serenely beyond the reach of exasperation, “far removed from the seats of strife,” as the early explorer and botanist William Bartram put it. All that is required of you is a willingness to trudge.

There is no point in hurrying because you are not actually going anywhere. However far or long you plod, you are always in the same place: in the woods. It’s where you were yesterday, where you will be tomorrow. The woods is one boundless singularity. Every bend in the path presents a prospect indistinguishable from every other, every glimpse into the trees the same tangled mass. For all you know, your route could describe a very large, pointless circle. In a way, it would hardly matter.

At times, you become almost certain that you slabbed this hillside three days ago, crossed this stream yesterday, clambered over this fallen tree at least twice today already. But most of the time you don’t think. No point. Instead, you exist in a kind of mobile Zen mode, your brain like a balloon tethered with string, accompanying but not actually part of the body below. Walking for hours and miles becomes as automatic, as unremarkable, as breathing. At the end of the day you don’t think, “Hey, I did sixteen miles today,” any more than you think, “Hey, I took eight-thousand breaths today.” It’s just what you do.”
― Bill Bryson, A Walk in the Woods: Rediscovering America on the Appalachian Trail
tags: distance, travel, walking, woods, zentime 61 likes Like


Disclosure: this post/page contains ethical affiliate links. I promote certain products and services that I have 100% confidence in. If you purchase as a result of clicking on my affiliate links, I receive a small commission. That commission is not added to the price you pay at checkout.


Follow Me On Social Media
Published inWord Wednesday

Be First to Comment

I would love to hear from you

©2021 - 2022 Stephen Bentley - and Hendry Publishing Ltd Registered in England and Wales: Company Number 13486229 Registered Office: 20-22 Wenlock Road London N1 7GU All Rights Reserved