Daily Archives: January 25, 2009


Be wary of any tuffet from which the the object of this word issues; you might want to give it a little miss. If this word makes you think of a female mofo, on the other hand, that would be closer, at least in desirability. This word, by itself, certainly seems soft and pleasant enough; there are overtones of muffin, fete, and feta, and there is that dainty ette ending. (On the other hand, Star Wars fans may think of Grand Moff Tarkin and Boba Fett.) It starts with a cushiony m and then has a puff of f in the middle – and that f rises from the word like a little wisp of steam. Fetid steam? In fact, yes – indeed, one might say mephitic steam, and one would be directly connected to the etymon. Does this mephitic mofette come from Mephistopheles? Well, the noxious exhalation may, but the words may not. Actually, it’s not clear where the word Mephistopheles comes from (Goethe, but where did he get it?). It is clear where mofettes come from – actually, they come from mofettes, which are not clear, but you know… That is, mofette can also refer to the fissure or fumarole from which the blast of CO2 issues forth. So it’s two for one, and mo’ mofette for your moola.