7
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In English, the term nimrod seems to have morphed sometime in the 20th century from meaning "mighty hunter" to meaning, roughly, "idiot" or "dipstick". The Internet knows that this is because of Bugs Bunny, in some Merrie Melodies cartoon, referring to Elmer Fudd as a "poor little Nimrod." [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Amazingly, the second meaning likely derived from the cartoon character Bugs Bunny. The wily rabbit used the term in its original sense to refer to his nemesis, the asinine hunter Elmer Fudd, whom he called a “poor little Nimrod.” Eventually, the name became more associated with the characteristics of the inept animated hunter than the great biblical warrior. [4]

But is this folk etymology actually true? Did Bugs Bunny ever refer to Elmer Fudd as a "poor little Nimrod", or any variation thereof, in any actual cartoon? (Title and year, please! Links to Merrie Melodies on DailyMotion may come in handy for verification.)

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  • 1
    From memory he did call Elmer Fudd a Nimrod once or twice. But wasn't that just sarcasm? Not a change in the meaning of the word. – Chenmunka Oct 13 '17 at 7:30
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    Possibly a humorous nickname for someone based on their being the opposite - calling a bad hunter a Nimrod the way one might call a bald man "Curly." See also english.stackexchange.com/questions/142761/…. – James McLeod Oct 13 '17 at 9:17
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    @Chenmunka: "wasn't that just sarcasm? not a change in the meaning" — The story goes that yes, it was just sarcasm; but kids watching the cartoon didn't remember that one line in Genesis and just assumed "nimrod" was a funny name to call someone, hence, the word changed meaning as a result. I've pasted in a quotation from one of the linked sources to clarify the received story. – Quuxplusone Oct 13 '17 at 16:54
9
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Elmer does get called "Nimrod". But...

According to IMDb, Elmer does get called "my little Nimrod"...

...by Daffy, in the 1948 short "What Makes Daffy Duck".

Elmer Fudd: How am I ever going to catch that scwewy duck?

Daffy Duck: Precisely what I was thinking, my little Nimrod.

Now granted this does not mean that this is the only instance where Elmer gets called this. I would take it as much more likely than not that the script writers re-used the insult for other shorts.

However... we may also be looking at an instance of The Mandela Effect. The chain of reasoning would then go like this...

  1. I have seen a cartoon where Elmer Fudd gets called "nimrod".
  2. Elmer was always hunting Bugs Bunny, I saw lots of such cartoons
  3. Therefore: Bugs called Elmer "nimrod".

This will — of course — be invalidated the very second that someone shows an instance where Bugs too called Elmer "Nimrod". However, a Google search on "elmer fudd nimrod site:imdb.com" reveals no other instance than from "What Makes Daffy Duck (1948)".

  • The IMDb quotes page is a mild misquote: they have "thinking", but Daffy actually says "wondering". "Precisely what I was wondering, my little Nimrod" is at 5m35s here. – Quuxplusone Oct 13 '17 at 23:23

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