A brief enquiry into ‘whomst’ memes
Is ‘whomst’ a word? Kind of feels like it should be, right? Where does this silly linguistic meme come from, does using it genuinely make you look smart, and is there actually research proving ‘whom’ can get you laid?
The English language is a perfidious mistress, as any non-native speaker will attest. How on earth is one supposed to get one’s head around the various meanings of ‘saw’, or ‘read’? ‘There’ or ‘they’re’? Why doesn’t ‘bear’ rhyme with ‘fear’? Or ‘dough’ with ‘cough’? What the fuck is up with the spelling of ‘yacht’?
The arcane nature of the UK’s mother tongue rather suits the country’s inherent wonkiness and disagreeableness. And native speakers secretly love it when noobs trip up on the English language’s countless weird, illogical and contradictory rules.
Which brings us to ‘whomst’ memes.
ORIGIN OF WHOMST MEME
Word on the street is, the fist recorded incidence of ‘whomst’ was an entry on the superb Urban Dictionary dated June 2nd, 2016 that reads:
For times when you want to ask “who or whom”, but need a fancier connotation.
“Francois dropped his caviar in the toilet.”
“Whomst would do such a thing?!”
And from there it stared bleeding into Instagram and inevitably Reddit.
WHAT’S THE DEAL WITH WHOMST
If you know English, a bit (well done), you’l be aware there there’s two subtly different ways of expressing the concept of ‘who’.
Without going too far down the grammar rabbit hole, traditionally, ‘who’ is intended to be used as the subject of sentences. Whereas who’s fancier cousin ‘whom’ is more commonly meant to be used as the object of verbs and prepositions.
This rule is not strictly followed in contemporary English usage (with who being used practically, day-to-day, by normal people, in most cases). Instead, whom seems to have gained an air of formalism and intellectualism.
So: ‘who knows the answer?’ Is legit, ‘whom knows the answer’ is not.
‘With whom would you like to work?’ makes sense, ‘with who would you like to work’ still technically works, but it’s not as classically correct.
This classical correctness is the whole point. Most English people never use ‘whom’ and if they do you can bet your arse they’re either 1) making a joke or 2) trying to look cleverer than they are.
So if ‘whom’ is a way of hinting at higher-than-average smarts, the thinking goes, extending the arcane word still further must imply even greater intelligence.
If ‘whom’ makes you sound cleverer than ‘whom’, then obviously ‘whomst’ makes you look even brainier still.
For awhile back there (in 2017) people just kept gleefully adding additional suffixes, frequently paired with that giant-brain Wojak meme.
I’ll take your ‘whom’ and raise you ‘whomst’d’.
Ha! Well I’ll show your ‘whomst’d’ who’s boss with a naughty little ‘whomst’d’ve’.
Pfft, get a load of my ‘whomst’d’ve’ly’yaint’nt’ed’ies’s’y’es’d’ve’s’ed’t’nt’s’.
You get the idea. Of course it’s silly, and drenched in irony. It’s English, after all, the home of preposterous irony. Hence the caviar example higher up this article. The more obscure and opaque your language, the theory/joke goes, the more fancy and sophisticated you must be.
Does that actually work?
IS WHOMST A REAL WORD?
According to actual research from the good people at Wired, men who use the word ‘whom’ on their dating profile are 31% more likely to make contact with interested members of the opposite sex.
Yep, given that intelligence is perceived as a sexually desirable characteristic – sorry Chad – anything that hints at your prodigious intellectual heft is surely worth putting on your dating profile. It’s just common sense.
Would adding ‘whomst’d’ve’ to your Tinder bio have an even greater effect? Let us know in the comments innit. If anybody questions you, tell them English is a fluid system that quite happily integrates neologisms at a rate of several dozen every year.
Of all the daft words English has adopted over the years, ‘whomst’ is perfectly cromulent. Just ask your Tinder date.
Can you get rich making memes?