Sunday, 18 September 2016

I think I may be a Gongoozler, or maybe even a Mumpsimus

I am definitely going to have to try and find a way to get each and every one of these "lost expressions" - as investigated by BBC Radio 4's literature programme Word of Mouth - into casual conversation this week.

1. Owl Jacket
Taken from the Italian ‘Giacca civetta', which refers to a jacket left on the back of a chair at work, so it looks like you are in the office working, rather than skiving at Costa.

2. Flype

An Old English word meaning to roll up your socks, stockings, leggings or jeggings, before putting them on.

3. Leper juice

An old medical term that refers to the pus found in the wounds of the afflicted. Thankfully it fell out of use due to its general horribleness.

4. Vizzying-hole

A Scots word for a peephole in a door, derived from the Old French word visée meaning ‘look’.

5. Uhtceare
An Old English word meaning to lie awake anxiously before dawn.

6. Sloom
To gently sleep or lightly slumber, from the Middle English slumen and the Old English slūmian.

7. Biffin
A deep red cooking apple. The name derives from ‘beefing’, in reference to the colour of the fruit. People would often exchange biffins at Christmastime.

8. Gongoozler
A person who likes to mindlessly stare (at anything). If only we all had more time to stare idly and do nothing. Turns out this old word has been adopted by canal boat residents and survives there to this day.

9. Snollygoster
A 19th century American term for an unprincipled, dishonest person, especially a politician.

10. Mumpsimus
An obstinate person who holds on rigidly to a certain set of beliefs even though they are wrong or disproved. The term may have been coined by Erasmus.

11. Wamblecropt
To have digestive issues that are so severe, you can’t physically move.

12. Groke
An old Scots word originally used to describe dogs staring longingly at food in order to be given some, but extended to refer to anyone gazing at grub.

13. Trullibubs
Another word for a person’s entrails, but can also be an insulting term aimed at an overweight person.

14. Sprunt
Not the soft drink that Alan Partridge was sponsored by, but a Victorian-era Scottish word meaning to chase girls around a haystack after dark. Possibly a combination of ‘spring’ and ‘hunt’.

Why don't you try them too, dear reader..?


  1. After so many 'Biffin'I be so 'Wamblecropt' I'm going to 'Sloom' and hope not to 'Uhtceare'

    All very 'Rambling Syd Rumpo' if you asks me.

    1. "Joe, he was a young cordwangler,
      Munging greebles he did go,
      And he loved a bogler's daughter
      By the name of Chiswick Flo.

      Vain she was and like a grusset
      Though her gander parts were fine,
      But she sneered at his cordwangle
      As it hung upon the line.

      So he stole a woggler's mooly
      For to make a wedding ring,
      But the Bow Street Runners caught him
      And the judge said "He will swing."

      Oh, they hung him by the postern,
      Nailed his mooly to the fence
      For to warn all young cordwanglers
      That it was a grave offence.

      There's a moral to this story,
      Though your cordwangle be poor,
      Keep your hands off other's moolies,
      For it is against the law."

      Indeed, Jx


Please leave a message - I value your comments!