Feeling Gruntled

Canadian Thanksgiving

The other day a group of us were seated in Second Cup, conversing about this and that, and one of them said to another member of the group, “You were looking disgruntled this morning.”

That raised the question, if you can be disgruntled, can you be gruntled? Someone had an iPad along and looked up the word and, sure enough, you CAN be gruntled. It evidently means satisfied, or put in a good humor, especially by food and company. So I can rightly say after Canadian Thanksgiving Dinner that I felt gruntled.

But wait. The word isn’t quite what it seems. Gruntled is evidently a back formation of disgruntled. Meaning that historically people felt there should be a matched pair — hence gruntled came as a late back formation. The first recorded usage of the word is 1929. The “dis” in “disgruntled” is not like the “dis” in “dismayed.” It means “completely”, i.e. “completely gruntled.”

So, contrary to the way it sounds, the modern gruntled is a neologism.

Be that as it may, I hope you’re feeling as gruntled as I am.

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