Weird words: Worrywart

A colleague wondered about the word worrywart one day last week. A worrywart is someone who frets, usually about insignificant matters. I haven’t found much about the origin of the word except that it appears to have been coined or to have entered wide usage in the 1930s and that it is a combination of worry and wart. This site says it comes from a comic strip, but I have a notion that the word came before the comic. A Wikipedia entry cites Worry Wart from the “Easy Company” comic.

A wart is a small flaw, so you can see why someone would have mixed worry and wart to describe someone who becomes anxious about something trivial. Worrywart is alliterative, and that probably helped it enter wide use, too.

This article was originally posted by the Raleigh News & Observer, a subsidiary of The McClatchy Co.; is posted here to provide continuity; and is copyright © 2011 The News & Observer Publishing Company, which reserves the right to remove this post.