googly-eyed ogle

There's been some discussion on a mailing list lately about pronunciation of "ogle."

I've always pronounced "ogle" to rhyme with "mogul," and it bugs me every time I hear it pronounced to rhyme with "toggle." I intellectually understand that it's a perfectly valid and fairly widespread pronunciation, but it still sounds Wrong to me. This probably has something to do with my putting way too much weight on the usual ways that English spelling corresponds with pronunciation.

And I know some people pronounce it to rhyme with "Google." (About 19% of respondents to the dialect survey consider that pronunciation valid! That's a lot.) But that sounds even wronger to me.

MW10 and MW11 list /'oU g@l/, with /'A g@l/ as an alternate pronunciation, but they don't list /'u g@l/. (See ASCII IPA pronunciation key.)

In the mailing-list discussion, someone mentioned "googly eyes" (those little toy eyes). I'm not sure how those eyes came to be called that, but MW11 says "googly-eyed" (first printed citation 1926) derives by alteration from "goggle-eyed," which dates back to 1711 and means "having bulging or rolling eyes." "Goggle" as an adjective ("protuberant, staring") dates back to 1540. The word "goggles" first appeared in print in 1715. These all appear to come from Middle English gogelen, "to squint."

I've also heard "making googly eyes" at someone to mean something like flirting--which I suddenly suspect comes from a combination of "make eyes at" and the /'u g@l/ pronunciation of "ogle." Or possibly I've got cause and effect reversed; maybe "make eyes at" plus "googly-eyed" became "make googly eyes at", and since "ogle" is a synonym for "make googly eyes at," people may've started pronouncing "ogle" to rhyme with "google."

But I'm just guessing.

Added later: Arthur C points out that "making goo-goo eyes" is something else again: Random House Unabridged Dictionary defines "goo-goo eyes" as "foolishly amorous glances." So now I'm thinking that's probably mixed in too.

And although this is probably irrelevant, MW11 notes that "goo-goos" were, in 1912, advocates of a political reform movement; derived from the phrase "good government."

P.S.: turns out "mogul" derives eventually from the Mongolian word "mongγol," meaning "Mongol."

2 Responses to “googly-eyed ogle”

  1. Zed

    In a current production of Noises Off, the character of Brooke, who spends half the play dressed only in lingerie, is played by “Brittany Ogle.”

    (I rhyme it with “toggle,” myself.)

  2. Anonymous

    mogul’s most recent ancestor is the Mogul empire in India (Shah Jehan, Taj Mahal guy, probably being the most well-known representative in the West).


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