Confusion Corner

Neotwampism. n. The intersection of Duke of Gloucester St, N. Boundary St., S. Boundary St., Jamestown Rd, and Richmond Rd; also the location where the William & Mary campus meets Colonial Williamsburg.

confusion corner


Confusion: Confusion was a loan word from Old French, in which “confusion” meant “disorder or shame.” The French word came from the Latin “confusionem” which meant  “mingling, mixing, blending; confusion, disorder”.

Corner: Corner was also a loan word from Old French. Old French “corniere” came from the Old French word “corne,” which came from the Latin word “cornu” for “projecting point, end, horn.”

The phrase “Confusion Corner” actually seems to have existed in Williamsburg for decades. However, according to this Daily Press article, the name originated as a term for the odd intersection at the opposite end of Duke of Gloucester St.. The term apparently migrated to describing the corner where Colonial Williamsburg meets the College at some point in the 1990’s following construction on the previous “Confusion Corner.”

Sociolectical Information: Since this word refers to a specific geographical location, it is only used by people familiar with to the Williamsburg area. Some debate still exists, however, around which intersection “Confusion Corner” refers to. All students I’ve talked to agree that it refers to the point where the College meets Colonial Williamsburg, but my research shows that older residents of Williamsburg who have been here for longer still use it to refer to the opposite end of Duke of Gloucester St. Therefore, “Confusion Corner” in reference to the first location seems to be a William and Mary-specific word.

Survival predictions: This phrase is very useful in general conversation, and it is a lot easier that saying “the intersection of Duke of Gloucester St, N. Boundary St., S. Boundary St., Jamestown Rd, and Richmond Rd,” for obvious reasons. The alliteration of the phrase “Confusion Corner” also makes it more appealing and catchy. Therefore, I think it is extremely likely to survive as long as that oddly planned intersection exists.

Lexopinions: I first heard this phrase a few weeks after I moved in, and I started using it immediately. I had already learned to hate that intersection with a passion, and I felt both amused and vindicated when I learned its nickname. It’s a perfect descriptor for a truly confusing intersection, and once I learned what it meant, I taught it to all my freshman friends.


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