the Movie: Funny or Violent Disturbance
By Rocky Reichman
Borat was hailed as an “Uproarious”
film by New York Post reporter Lou Lemenick. Uproarious has become another neologism that the print and media worlds
have given birth to. Put the exciting noun uproar together with a formal suffix -ous and “poof!”:
we get a new word.
What exactly makes something “uproarious?”
Merriam-Webster defines uproarious as “marked by or causing boisterous merriment or convulsive laughter.”
It’s also defined as “uncontrollably noisy.”
Last time, I checked, an uproar had nothing to do with being funny--seriously. Nor is it an “extremely
funny” word. An uproar is a “violent disturbance or commotion, tumult;” from Dutch oproer,
meaning to “stir up.”
How then did uproarious come to mean
something “extremely funny”?
These words may look like twins, but they
are far from identical. Adding the suffix “ous” to uproar should not warrant such a change in its definition,
either. So how does “extremely funny” mix with “violent disturbance”? They don’t. To find the
connection, we’ll have to look at the word uproar from a different angle. “Uncontrollably noisy”
and “violent commotion” seem unrelated to humor--on the outside. But look closely. Uproarious means “boisterous
merriment or convulsive laughter.” Aren’t those two actions, in essence, considered a “violent commotion”?
They are. And can something that causes “convulsive laughter” be uncontrollably noisy? It can. To find out if
there were a more concrete connection between these two terms, I looked to a pre-1950s source: Webster’s Dictionary,
Unabridged, reports that uproar can also be defined as “noisy.” So here’s the link, then. How
the serious uproar raised a humorous word still remains to be solved. But we at least have a workable theory: the link
between uproar and its child uproarious; the connection between something that causes “violent commotions”
and another that is marked by “convulsive laughter.” After all, when an audience watches a funny movie like Borat,
they will sometimes be “in an uproar” over how enjoyable it was.
Is this really a viable connection?
Can this theory be tested? Well, when the “uproarious” movie Borat was released, there was an uproar
from the character Borat’s alleged home, Kazakhstan. That just goes to show you: maybe something uproarious
can cause an uproar.
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