Messin' and Gaumin'

Giganews Newsgroups
Subject: Messin' and Gaumin'
Posted by:  John Varela (newlam…@verizon.net)
Date: 5 Feb 2016

This a question from my wife, who grew up in a small (very small; 14
in the high school graduating class) in far southern Illinois,
across the Ohio River from Paducah, Ky.

When she was a child, her mother (born 1903) and her mother's mother
would use the subject expression, saying something like this to
pesky children: "You kids are just messin' and gaumin'. Go outside
and play." (No g's in those verb endings.) The meaning of the
expression is pretty clear.

She has checked with a childhood friend and confirmed that the
expression was used in at least one other family.

The OED has three definitions for verb "gaum":

  1. "To handle, esp. in some improper fashion." Latest citation
    from 1893.

  2. (also gorm) "To smear with a sticky substance; to daub
    (something sticky) on a surface. Also with up." Latest
    citation is for "gorm" in 1962.

  3. "To stare vacantly." This is the only intransitive form.
    The most likely citation is: "1887  T. Darlington Folk-speech
    S.Cheshire  Gawmin, foolish, awkward, rash."
    The latest citation is from 1928, for "gorm".

None of the citations includes "messing and gauming".

The on-line M-W just gives one definition, "smudge, smear", and an
example, "the kitchen floor was all gaumed up from countless
spills".

What SWMBO wants to know is, has anyone else ever heard "messin' and
gaumin'" or similar? Or is it just a local expression in southern
Illinois?

--
John Varela

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