-monger. Why just fish & whores?

Fishmonger is a term I hear fairly commonly, whoremonger less so. Why is the use of monger restricted to these two situations?

Followup Question: Why are they opposites? A fishmonger sells fish, a whoremonger spends money (buys) on whores.


Fear Monger

Costermonger. Warmonger.

It isn’t. It’s mostly archaic now, and I wouldn’t say it’s even used commonly for fishmonger. However, there are still ironmongers (especially in Great Britain), cheesemongers, etc. It’s just that the terms are not generally used among the general public.

As well as mongers for fish & whores, there are ironmongers, costermongers (selling fruit from barrows in London), rumo(u)rmongers, & scandalmongers. I’m sure there are others.

When I visited Spain, I kept seeing stores called “Ferreteria.” Out of total ignorance, I thought they were cafeterias specializing in ferret meat. Then I peeked inside one, and discovered that they were hardware stores . . . ironmongers’ stores.

I wouldn’t say they are opposites. The basic meaning of “monger” is broker or dealer, that is, someone involved in the trade of. According to Merriam-Webster, the term “whoremaster,” originating in the 14th century, preceded “whoremonger” (1526). This suggests the original sense may have been pimp instead of client.

Shows how old I am. I always thought it meant pimp.

Kids today and their language!

I think War Monger is probably the most commonly heard “monger” word, at least in the US. Fear Monger maybe being a close second. I would not consider either of those to be archaic.

I thought a whoremonger was a pimp.

Dammit, someone visited the ninja-monger.

Note that all “modern” usages of the term (rumormonger, scandalmonger, scaremonger) are meant to be disparaging to the person being described as such. That change of meaning is probably why people no longer use it for values-neutral sellers of things (e.g. ipadmongers).

I think we should all start using -monger as often as possible, in neutral contexts. Then we can take back this colorful and useful word and restore it to respectability.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to the coffeemonger to get a cappuccino.

I have a follow-up question. I keep hearing people pronounce this as “monger” with the O as in “long,” but I always thought it was pronounced “munger,” like “monkey” is “munky” rather than “mon-key” (and presumably for the same phonetic reason). Is the o-as-in-long pronunciation a spelling pronunciation, a regional thing, flat-out wrong, or am I wrong about the “munger” pronunciation?

I think that it’s just that the word survived for products that have existed since the word was common. Some things that people used to mong a lot, they don’t any more, so those mongers have fallen out of common use.

And I thought an ironmonger was one who sold weapons, not civilian tools.

I’ve never heard it to rhyme with hunger, but usually with -mon- pronounced as ryming with bon-bon or Khan–the o taking on the “a” sound in aaahhh or father (I’m from the Midwest and now live in central Florida)

hijack since anyway the thread is about word roots:

The symbol for iron is Fe, from Latin Ferrum. Ferretería = ironmonger’s, ferretero = ironmonger; herrería = smithy, herrero = blacksmith; hierro = iron. The most usual word has changed most from the original common root, the least usual ones have changed least.

Heh, that’s exactly the direction my thoughts were headed.

Merriam Webster indicates that the correct pronunciation is “munger.” I suspect as the word has become rarer people tend to pronounce it as it is spelled since they don’t often hear it said.