mike leary: I have to do a speech for a class about interesting word origins and I remember hearing an interesting one about whippersnapper. If anyone knows what it is I would appreciate an explanation.
Roy Wittman: I've normally heard people called "young whippersnappers". What is the origin of the word? The dictionary refers you to "snippersnapper" but does not give the etymology.
Ed Dienes: Just about anyone who is called a "whippersnapper" is either a juvenile or a learner who is barely dry behind the ears. One of the easiest skills learned by greenhorn cowboys is that of snapping a black snake whip, or bullwhip. Long ago, lots of young fellows who could not bulldog a steer or rope a maverick prided themselves on being able to strut into town while calling attention to themselves by snapping their whips. Older townsfolk were quick to adopt "whippersnapper" as just the right label for any brash but unskilled beginner.
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