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So, what's a "humhum"? - History's Newsstand Blog : History's Newsstand Blog

So, what’s a “humhum”?

January 8, 2011 by  
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This advertisement appeared in the “Middlesex Gazette” of Middletown, Connecticut, on June 13, 1803. I have no idea what a “humhum” is. Do any of you?

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2 Responses to “So, what’s a “humhum”?”

  1. Morris on January 9th, 2011 8:53 am

    Ok. I went to Google and typed in humhum and eventually found an article concerning an estate sale in the early 1800’s. The sale included slaves, horses, farm equipment, furniture, etc. Also included was linens such as sheets, tablecloths, and napkins.

    Listed in this category I found that humhums were available.

    What good is this, I thought. Didn’t the estate owner realize that two hundred years later Tim would want to know what the heck is a humhum?

    Never the less I was undaunted in my search. I deduced that humhums must be some type of linen.

    I again went to Google and typed in ‘humhum linens’ I was taken to a page titled

    On this page I found the following definition of humhum: “an East Indian cotton cloth”

    Also was a reference to a book titled An American Glossary by Richard Hopwood Thornton (1912)

    An illustration of the word humhum as used in a sentence read:

    “1820 I can foresee the time when our fine twilled linen shall be as much superior to the bleach rotted linen imported, or the sleazy humhum, as they are to a cobweb.”

    At this point I took off my sleuthing cap, put on my earmuffs, and went outside to shovel snow this fine Sunday morning.

  2. TimHughes on January 9th, 2011 12:08 pm

    Morris – Thanks much for all the research! Now if I can only find a way to blend it into everyday conversation.

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