One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
adjectiveEnglish Regional, West, Welsh English
Foolish, stupid; mentally confused or disordered.
Late Middle English. Origin uncertain. Perhaps the reflex of an unattested Old English *cȳmed, past participle of *cȳman to bewilder, confuse, stupefy, a factitive verb from cȳme, adjective, in the unattested sense ‘feeble-minded, stupid’. The Old English adjective is attested only in sense ‘fine, comely, handsome’; however, this seems to show a semantic development, via a sense ‘fragile, delicate, fine’, from an earlier sense ‘weak, feeble, sickly’, both of which senses are attested in the Old High German and Middle High German cognate adjectives; compare discussion at comely, and see further F. Heidermanns Etymol. Wörterbuch der germanischen Primäradjektive 345–6. For a somewhat similar semantic development compare the apparently cognate Old Icelandic (in late sources) kýminn merry, playful, full of fun, kýmiligr amusing, funny, comical, Icelandic kýma (also kíma) to smile at, poke fun at.
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