I have recently learned that there is such a thing as a mechanical calculating device called a dumaresq. Now I happen to know (thanks to my perusal of the BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names and Daniel Jones’s English Pronouncing Dictionary in my leisure hours) that the surname Dumaresq (as in John Dumaresq, inventor of the dumaresq) has the unintuitive pronunciation /dʊˈmɛrɪk/ (du-MERR-ik), but I’m wondering whether the calculating device retained that pronunciation or was given a new one by the sailors who used it. Wikipedia says that the dumaresq Mark VIII “lasted into service through WWII,” so it’s still (barely) within living memory; does anyone happen to know how it was said? (Shockingly, it’s not in the OED.)

Also, I have just learned that there is a word pneudraulic ‘of or relating to a mechanism involving both pneumatic and hydraulic action.’ I do not approve.

Update (Oct. 2022). I found this video, seemingly authoritative, which uses /ˈduːmərɪk/ (DOO-merik) for the device.


  1. I do not countenance pneudralic either. I noticed that the neologisms I hate the most are usually portmanteau words. Some people apparently think they are wonderful, so they keep making more of them. But then, some people think it’s a wonderful thing to plant Bermuda grass.

  2. There was a French mathematical physicist
    Joseph Valentin Boussinesq
    whose name, sez wiki, is pronounced as one would expect.

    He was known for his work in hydrodynamics, so that one may sometimes come across references to Boussinesq fluids, which I find very pleasing.

  3. The name is not in the current editions of Jones (edited by Peter Roach and others). J. C. Wells’s LPD gives /dju’merɪk->dʒu-/ (/du-/ is only listed as the expected American variant).

  4. If you hated “pneudraulic”, you’ll love “airdraulic”

  5. David Eddyshaw says

    “Pneudraulic” sounds like a particularly objectionable misogynistic slur.

  6. Stu Clayton says

    Boy, that sure dates you and me both. The objectionable expression was – as I just checked after barely remembering – “pneumatic”. I can’t make any sense of “pneudraulic” in this context.

  7. David Eddyshaw says

    The One True Meaning of “pneumatic”, is of course, “spiritual.” I deplore this modern habit of describing tyres – tyres – as pneumatic. They are undoubtedly the least spiritual part of the car.

  8. Kate Bunting says

    I note that John Dumaresq’s middle name was Saumarez, possibly after the Admiral of that name, born in Guernsey https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James_Saumarez,_1st_Baron_de_Saumarez. My guess is that he too was of Channel Island stock and with naval connections. Maybe the family adopted the pronunciation ‘Dumerrick’ while living in Australia?

  9. Jen in Edinburgh says

    I looked at Dumaresq and thought (with no particular authority), ‘that’s a Channel Islands name’.

    And it does seem to be – see e.g.

    and Dumaresq Street in St Helier:

    No idea what Jerriais would do with final -sq, though.

  10. Rodger C says

    It may be pneudraulic, but is it triphibious?

  11. Stu Clayton says

    No idea what Jerriais would do with final -sq, though.

    Calling Geraint ! [except I don’t have a Twitter account]

  12. No idea what Jerriais would do with final -sq, though.

    Audio of a form from Jersey form here:


    I don’t know whether this is the direct regular outcome of a Frankish *marisk in Jerrais, or a form reflecting the influence of other dialects. I would love it if someone (Geraint Jennings?) could tell us. But compare the diminutive:


    Entry in the Jerripedia on the name:


    Here is maresc in Godefroy’s dictionary:


    From this:


    The reflex of this in Modern French is marais “marsh, swamp”, but the maréc- of French marécage “swamp”, from earlier marescage, evidently originally a Norman or Picard form, preserves the hard c of maresc.

    Apologies for the profusion of links, but I can’t type well because of an injury.

  13. J.W. Brewer says

    What would it have meant in Brave New World if Lenina had said “Everyone says I’m awfully pneudraulic,” instead of “pneumatic”?

  14. Trond Engen says

    Xerib: The reflex of this in Modern French is marais “marsh, swamp”, but the maréc- of French marécage “swamp”, from earlier marescage, evidently originally a Norman or Picard form, preserves the hard c of maresc.

    Picard, I’d think, or at least a Frankish element in Norman, since a borrowing from Old Norse should have the North Germanic i-umlaut and syncope (*mersc-). Is Dumaresq a local Jersey name?

  15. Trond Engen says

    Yes, at least the family owned the house of La Haule since the early 15th century, But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the name was local. Next question: Is there’s a Maresq they could hail from?

    But I agree that the attestations of the name suggest that the form maresq reflects local tradition. The other forms can be explained by French French and English,

  16. John Cowan says

    The One True Meaning of “pneumatic”, is of course, “spiritual.”

    Come come, those are mere metaphors. “The wind blows where it wants to: you hear it, but you can’t tell where it comes from or where it’s going. That’s what people are like who are born from the wind.” (John 3:8). And by the same token, on pneumatic tires you ride as if on the wind.

    “Everyone says I’m awfully pneudraulic”

    Nowadays it might be “Everyone says I’m awfully silico-saline”.

  17. I was always puzzled (without really spending too much time thinking about it) by the name of the composer Henry Desmarest (also spelled Desmarets, Desmaretz, and even apparently Desmarais). Learning of the variant marest of maresc has cleared this up.


  18. There’s also the actor William Demarest.

  19. David A Noble says

    We’ve (Cdn military) used the term handraulic to describe a task to be done with pencil and paper rather than computer tools

  20. Ha! Now, that I like.

  21. John Cowan says

    Related to the notion of an Armstrong Patent Jackhammer (that is, a sledgehammer). Armstrong makes many similar devices.

  22. See update for pronunciation, which somehow never got determined last year.

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