Whirr2005-08-22
For future reference:
Tmesis (Greek, "a cutting") is a figure of speech in which a word or phrase is inserted into another word, often for humorous effect. The insertion may occur between the parts of a compound word, of an infinitive (split infinitive), or between syllable boundaries (dystmesis).

Also referred to as diacope, or tumbarumba; the latter due to the popularity of tmesis in Australian speech. Linguists sometimes describe tmesis as a form of infixing.

Examples:

  • "what-place-soever"; note that "whatsoever" is itself an example of tmesis, being an insertion of "so" into "whatever"
  • "I can't find it any-blooming-where" (see also expletive infixation)
  • "how heinous e'er it be" (Shakespeare's tmesis of "however" in Richard II)
  • "any-old-how" (parallel to "any old thing")
  • "fan-fucking-tastic"
  • Perhaps the most famous example of tmesis employed within a proper name is the popular expression of surprise or frustration: "Jesus H. Christ".
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