Mumpsimus? What is a mumpsimus?

Dwight Hunter,  Chattanooga State Technical Community College, TN
o many kind readers  e-mailed me or asked me in person 
to beg the question of what does the word mumpsimus mean?

To put it succinctly, each person born on Earth in all likelihood 
has been a mumpsimus. My editing professor in college, the late 
Dr. John B. Bremner, introduced me to the word mumpsimus.  As he 
said it, every one of his students was one.

According to Dr. Bremner, the word has been in our language for 
more than four hundred years.  It means an error long embedded in 
life or language, or steadfast adherence to the error after correction, 
or a person who insists on perpetuating an error. (See Words on Words 
by John Bremner.)

I, for one, was a mumpsimus on the spelling of the word separation.  
As editor of a newspaper, I edited copy looking for spelling errors.  
I insisted that the word separation be spelled seperation.  The copy 
editor disagreed.  But since I was the editor, I could ignore the 
copy editor's suggestion and published the newspaper as I saw correct.

Dr. Bremner put my human pride on the proverbial roasting spit and 
toasted it.  I learned very quickly to shed my mumpsimus trait for 
the correct spelling of separation.

Thank you Dr. Bremner for introducing the word mumpsimus to me.  
Now, I can introduce this wonderful descriptive word of human 
nature to all of you.