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Old 21 October 2013, 10:58 PM
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Mateus Mateus is offline
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Canada 'Nimrod' means dumb because of Bugs Bunny?

I heard this from a friend today: before the 1930s, the word "Nimrod" didn't mean a dimwit or moron. But a Bugs Bunny cartoon-- featuring Elmer Fudd in his role as wabbit hunter-- changed that. Bugs Bunny saw Elmer coming after him, and says something to the effect of, "check out this Nimrod." Now, Nimrod was a mighty hunter in ancient legends (including the Bible), but kids who saw this cartoon were (mostly) unaware of the reference. They thought that "Nimrod" was a general insult instead of a sarcastic comparative reference, and started using "nimrod" as a slang term for stupid, and it's seeped into our culture as such.

Now, I found this through the Wikipedia page for Nimrod, but I haven't seen the cartoon in question, and I've only found the one (credible) reference. It sounds kinda ULish to me, and so I was wondering if anyone else knew or could verify this story.
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Old 22 October 2013, 12:52 AM
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musicgeek musicgeek is offline
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There's definitely at least one Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd cartoon in which Bugs refers to another character as "Nimrod." And, yes, Nimrod was a biblical hunter.
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Old 22 October 2013, 01:38 AM
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Little Pink Pill Little Pink Pill is offline
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This etymology dictionary calls the bugs bunny theory "amateur," but doesn't seem to have specific evidence to back up other proposals for the shift in meaning.
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Old 22 October 2013, 02:46 AM
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ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
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None of three amateur theories listed for this word have any good confirming evidence, including the Loony Tunes explanation.
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Old 23 October 2013, 01:46 AM
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RealityChuck RealityChuck is offline
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It's not easily answered.

The OED lists the first cite by Ben Hecht in 1933. Bugs Bunny did not exist at that time.

Originally Posted by OED
1933 B. Hecht & G. Fowler Great Magoo iii. i. 183 He's in love with her. That makes about the tenth. The same old Nimrod. Won't let her alone for a second.
However, the next cite is not until 1963, after Bugs (and the cartoon when he used it). It's possible that Hecht's use was a nonce usage; certainly it's unclear from the quote that meaning is "idiot." And many more people would have been familiar with Bugs using it than Ben Hecht.
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Old 23 October 2013, 03:28 AM
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ganzfeld ganzfeld is offline
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I don't see how the first one is different from the older meaning of someone hopelessly addicted to hunting. (Which may be the meaning in BB as well.)
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Old 15 September 2014, 03:30 AM
Elkhound Elkhound is offline
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The "Great Magoo" cite may refer to the man 'hunting' the girl he's in love with. In Schubert's "Die Schone Mullerein", the young miller calls the dimwitted but handsome huntsman who dazzles the girl, 'Nimrod', but obviously in the context that refers to his hunting prowess. But perhaps this indicates a general cultural shift to thinking that guys devoted greatly to hunting aren't very bright?
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