Six amazing words you never knew existed


Blogging is an amazing thing. The other day I got a message via my blog from an author whose book I had bought as a Christmas present for my father a few years back. His name is Adam Jacot de Boinod and the book in question was The Meaning of Tingo. His new book, The Wonder of Whiffling (pictured above) comes out this week.  We exchanged a few emails and, never one to miss a trick, I asked him if he would like to propose six amazing words that you wouldn’t recognize. He duly obliged, and I include them below.

1 pingle (Suffolk) to move food about on the plate for want of an appetite

2 mumpish (1721) sullenly angry; depressed in spirits

3 crambazzled (Yorkshire), prematurely aged through drink and a dissolute life

4 cagg (UK military slang b1811) a solemn vow or resolution used by private soldiers not to get drunk for a certain time

5 twizzling (Sussex dialect) spinning a pointer on a pub ceiling to decide who should buy the next round

6 shangle (Cumberland + Westmoreland dialects) to fasten a tin or kettle to a dog¹s tail

The English teacher and materials writer in me thought of adding example sentences but why not leave that for the comments?

For those of you who are word lovers, please check out Adam’s book and website. Thanks Adam!

Published in: on September 22, 2009 at 10:20 am  Comments (10)  
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10 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. Well, that’s sorted one of my Christmas presents for this year.

    I found number 6 alarmingly specific… not just to fasten a kettle or tin to “something” but to a “dog” in particular. Perhaps said by a bunch of bored youths, “Hey lads, let’s go and shangle a dog!” (Doesn’t sound too pleasant.)

    I think I know a crambazzled English teacher…

    • Just to add, this seems to be the British version of the vocabulary book Americans use to study for SATs. Never quite understood the theory behind it…

  2. Now, am I alone in feeling a door opening here for another ‘six things’ entry – words we used in our youth/teens that are no longer current (or something a little snappier, perhaps)?

    When I was a teenager we used to refer to chaps who dressed in a dull and unfashionable way as ‘traffords’ – after the mail-order catalogue of the same name, which usually featured a wide range of appallingly uninspiring “youngsters’ fashions”.

    Any others forthcoming?

    PS: I was NEVER a trafford, Lindsay, but I bet you were!

  3. Fun posting Lyndsay and shiver me timbers, that’s an interesting question, Sandy. Fashionwise, I had a couple of outfits called ‘bloomer dresses’. (They came with knickers made from the same fabric as the dress. In fact there may have been more fabric in the knickers than the dress.)
    But what expressions peppered people’s speech? I have vague recollections of things being ‘groovy’ and ‘heavy’ and ‘psychadelic’ and I went ‘bopping’ a lot. Was ‘Righty ho’ ever in vogue?
    There must have been a fair bit of politically incorrect language around as well. The people who led meetings were all ‘chairmen’ and ‘Ms’ was a peculiar form of address indicating an ardent feminist.

    • Thanks all for the comments. Interesting question Sandy, which Vicky has taken up. I suppose it depends when we were teenagers, which might be too much for some to divulge! 🙂 Now, the pressing question is “was I a trafford”? I don’t know that expression, it didn’t exist in Canada, but I certainly did dress in a dull and unfashionable way until a bout of rebellion at sixteen years old which saw me throw out those trafford clothes and buy rock t-shirts with things like Mickey Mouse giving the finger on them. This lasted for awhile, then there was a slightly hippie stage followed by a return of the trafford clothes I think. Hope that clarifies things!
      Will think of expressions which no longer exist… am drawing a blank right now though!

  4. You’re right, Lindsay. I think we were all ‘traffords’ to some degree, for as long as we wore the clothes our parants and grandparents bought us, all until the efforts of ‘teenage rebellion’ began to bear fruit. I too went out and bought a ‘hippy’ t-shirt – one with a glittery motif on it – when I was 15, and life has been a roller-coaster ride ever since!

  5. Oddly enough whiffling is a word which has come to my attention recently. The Canadian Wayfarer association has a website called Whiffle Web and they post a newsletter called the Weekly Whiffle. In my dictionary to whiffle is ‘to disperse as by a puff, to veer as wind or to be fickle’. But that’s enough whiffling for now!

  6. […] way we think about ELT, books about critical ways of looking at images, about dialogues or about words you never knew existed. That last book actually takes first place as an ideal stocking […]

  7. thanks

  8. […] here (which defines shangle but doesn’t explain why one would want […]

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