Look, I know this is being published on a Thursday, but in my defence I’m writing this on a Wednesday and the idea came to me this afternoon.
I don’t know how familiar you are with this term actually, as it’s fairly new, and still seems largely confined to American English. It refers of course to today (yesterday), Wednesday. Being right in the middle of the working/studying week, it feels like a hump that needs to be got over before we begin the happy approach to the weekend.
There’s nothing really strange in the origins of the word hump. It comes from the Old Saxon hump, meaning hill or heap, which can probably be traced back to the Proto-Indo-European kumb, meaning curved.
To hump can also of course be a verb. Probably because when you commit yourself to putting that verb into practice, your body will likely be curved in some way. Depending on how you do it, of course.
Hump is also commonly used in the British English phrase to get the hump. And again, there’s nothing really unusual in the origins of this expression. It probably simply refers to the fact that if you’re annoyed by something, you’ll probably have your head and shoulders down, giving your back a nice hump.
Now you’re probably thinking, don’t we call someone with a large hump in their back a hunchback? Or you might have always thought that that guy with a hump in his back who rang the bells in that cathedral was the Humpback of Notre Dame. Understandably, because of the hump. But no, a humpback is a whale, and a hunchback is a chap like Quasimodo. Confusing, I know. The reason we say hunchback is that it came come from bunch. It originally meant, when it appeared in the 14th century, a bundle, as it still does. It soon also came to mean a swelling or protuberance, particularly of the body. Like a hump. So yes, in this sense hunch and hump mean the same thing, but the similarity in sound is purely coincidence, as the words had different origins.
Anyway, hopefully you got through the hump day (yesterday) OK, and these fascinating thoughts about the term have made your Thursday pass a little more quickly.