On Tuesday night I was at my usual Welsh folk music session having a nice time, then unfortunately a guy fell over and banged his head – he was a bit unsteady on his feet, and had drunk quite a bit. He was okay and has apparently recovered now, but it put a bit of a dampener on the evening.
A dampener is a device that moistens or dampens something, or a discouraging event or remark. Synonyms include buzzkill, killjoy and spoilsport. Do you have any others?
It comes from the Middle English dampen (to stifle, suffocate), from the Proto-Germanic *dampaz (vapour), from *dimbaną (to fog, smoke) [source].
Last night when talking about this incident in French, I learnt the phrase gâcher qch, which means to to a dampener/damper on something. Gâcher on its own means to spoil, ruin, muck up, bungle, waste, squander (chances), temper (plaster) or mix (mortar). It appears in phrases like gâcher le paysage (to be a blot of the landscape) and gâcher (to kill a party [source].
Gâcher comes from the Old French gaschier (to spol, spoil, waste), from guaschier/waschier (to wash, soak), from the Frankish *waskan (to wash, bathe), from the Proto-Germanic *waskaną (to wash), from the Proto-Indo-European *wod- (wet) [source].
Words from the same roots include wash in English, wassen (to wash, clean) in Dutch, guazzàre (to wallow) in Italian, and vaske (to wash, shampoo, launder, shuffle) in Danish [source].
4 thoughts on “Dampeners”
“Wet blanket” is common in the US.
Noticing the word “wash” is listed I am always amazed at how many words in French (guerre, guichet, garderobe, Gauthier) start with a “w” in English (war,wicket,wardrobe, Walter).
Often also “put a damper on” in the U.S.
Hank – the words beginning with g come from Old French, while the ones beginning with w come from Anglo-Norman / Old Northern French. There’s also guard and ward, guardian and warden, Gwilym (in Welsh) and William.