09 October 2008


I came across this word in a short story collection called Grifters and Swindlers (ed. Cynthia Manson, Carroll & Graf, 1993). The stories appeared in the Alfred Hitchcock/Ellery Queen magazines over the years. Apparently Ms. Manson has put together several such collections under a variety of themes and subjects. I picked up Grifters and Swindlers for a dollar at the local library book sale. Not only was the hardcover in very good condition, it had stories by William Campbell Gault, W.L. Heath, and Jim Thompson, among others. Who could pass that up? Mr. Thompson's was called "The Frightening Frammis."

What the hell is a "frammis?" Let me tell you I had a hard time finding out. It isn't in the dictionary! But I'm pretty skilled at combing the 'net for info, and I think I can put together a definition. Eric Partridge, one of my literary heroes, used the abbreviation "o.o.o." in the essential ORIGINS to mean "of obscure origin." I'm going to apply it to "frammis."

frammis, n., o.o.o.

1. a con or swindle
2. a catch-all term for an un-named or un-nameable thing; a 'whatchamacalit'
3. a phony gemstone, substituted for a more valuable one
4. a dream or ideal, hoplessly out of reach, but pursued nontheless

Isn't that a great word? Many thanks to Ms. Manson and the late Mr. Thompson for bringing it to my world.


nancyo said...

Greeat word, indeed. I like the title, 'The Frightening Frammis,' though I am wondering what it was. Whatever; still a tugging good title.

Anonymous said...

Donald Westlake in "Drowned Hopes":

Somewhere in through there, a fellow named Mitch Lynch came in, doing a heavy term for a long-con frammis against an oilman in Tulsa.

M.C. O'Connor said...

That is the very D.E.W. I'm looking for! Supposedly he has a character named Tom Jimpson or somesuch, in homage to Jim Thompson.

Anonymous said...

I got the eBook.

Harvey Croze said...

I learned long, long ago, that a frammis is a nonsense device wherein you substitute the real words in a phrase with words that sound more or less like the originals. Thus a frammis for (on?) 'Little Red Riding Hood' would render something like: 'Ladle rod rotten good'.