Saturday, November 15, 2008

Gammy Leg

What’s a “gammy leg?” I thought Python best used the phrase “gammy leg” in the Lifeboat Sketch, where the Captain tells his shipmates to eat him to survive and another sailor goes, “Ugh…with a gammy leg?” Many Americans (not me, of course, because I’m hip) might have thought they said “gummy leg,” but no. Legs do not turn multi-colored, chewy, and fruit-flavored, not even in Britain.

A gammy leg is simply a deformed or lame leg. It’s most commonly used to refer to a leg that’s been injured. Americans would call it a “bum leg.” The term was popularized during World War II, when soldiers came back with a lot of gammy legs.

The origin of the phrase “gammy leg” is in dispute. Some say that the phrase comes from a Celtic word “kam,” which means “crooked.” Another source claims the term comes from a Welsh nobleman named David Gam, whose last name means “deformed” in Welsh, and who had a squinty eye. David Gam was also the inspiration for the comic strip character Popeye. Just kidding.

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