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About stuff

May 28, 2008

For a while now, I’ve been struck by how people refer to their possessions as stuff – a collective noun (?) to describe the amorphous, unarticulated collection of objects they own. Not important enough to be able to name, too large in quantity to be able to catalogue and account for or is it that there no connection to warrant the naming? The stuff may be loosely defined by some use, purpose or other object – car stuff, house stuff, work stuff but it is still not really articulated.  Odd, considering the hours of work, striving and debt that is represented by stuff.

The word stuffed is used to denote when we’ve had enough or are sated (think festive, celebratory lunch) and colloquially in Australia we use it to say we have reached the limit; we are really tired – with some regularity I say after gardening and limping back to the house, “God, I’m stuffed” – or that something has reached a point of no return – “That motor is stuffed” – but a “stuff up’ also says, that a mistake has been made.

So what I’m wondering is, if we’ve reached the limit, does that mean we’ve had enough?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. May 29, 2008 12:00 am

    I have had a stuffed nose for the last week and I’ve certainly had enough of that.

  2. Kathy permalink
    May 29, 2008 12:29 am

    I have found myself using the term ‘stuff’ lately for possessions, and for me it indicates a recognition of the fact that a) they are not necessary, and b) they are a bloody nuisance i.e., they need cleaning, they take up space, get in the way and are not an essential part of me. In other words, they have become more burden than use, and that I am separating myself from them as ‘other’.

  3. xltilde permalink
    May 29, 2008 5:34 am

    We should be telling our stuff to get stuffed!

    From the Greek stuphein, to draw together.

  4. May 29, 2008 9:21 pm

    Anaglyph: I’ve a stuffed hip and boy, haven’t I had enough of that!

    Kathy: Agreed.

    Xtilde: If only.

  5. lidna permalink
    June 4, 2008 10:16 am


  6. June 4, 2008 10:17 pm

    Lidna: The 21st Century synonym for stuff? I can hear it now, tidy up all that Prada. Ha!

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