Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Snollygosters and Grumbletonians

I’m at the tail end of my WIP with a deadline looming over me. One minute I’m convinced I’ve got it, the next I’m sure I’m doomed. Endings are difficult for me. They always have been. I discovered this when I came across stories I wrote in grade school and junior high. You can read about them here.

So I’m in need of a little distraction. For me that means finding interesting words. Yes, I was that kid who liked to read the dictionary and encyclopedia for fun.

Here are a few interesting words I’ve run across recently:

suffonsified or sophonsified – I heard this one on an episode of Sleepy Hollow. Couldn’t find it in the OED, but I did find it online. Supposedly, it’s informal Canadian speak meaning satisfied. Does that ring a bell for all of you Canadians out there?

gillygaupus – I also got this one from Sleepy Hollow. According to the OED it originated in the 1700s and means a foolish or awkward person. Variations include gilly-gaucus and gilly-gawpy 

fudgel - This is an eighteenth-century term meaning “Pretending to work when you're not actually doing anything at all.” I have to say I’m pretty good at this one. A lot of people would say writers, in particular, do this a lot. But, really, sometimes when we’re staring off into space we’re actually working!

perendinate - to put off until the day after tomorrow. I’m also really good at this one, though I’m trying to be better.

uhtceare - (OOT-key-ARE-a) This is an Old English word meaning lying awake and worrying about the day ahead. That’s me these days with that deadline looming.

slugabed – This one’s from the 16th century and means someone who lies in bed through laziness or past the time they should be up. I’ve actually heard this one in my life, from my mom when she was trying to get me up for school. I am not a morning person!

grumbletonians - people who are unhappy with their government. I think there are a lot of people in the U.S. these days (and probably in other countries) that could be called grumbletonians these days. The OED says: “A contemptuous designation applied in the latter part of the 17th c. to the members of the so-called ‘Country Party’ in English politics, who were accused by the ‘Court party’ of being actuated by dissatisfied personal ambition; hence in later times applied to supporters of the Opposition.”

snollygoster - A shrewd, unprincipled person, esp. a politician. Love this one. I shall start using it immediately!

So there you have it, some fun new words for you to use. Now, I must get back to writing!


Aline Templeton said...

Oh, I am so with you on this one! I too am at that awful, towards the ending stage. Perhaps I should take to the dictionary too - I love your words!

Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Ha ha ha ha – I love your words too!

Rick Blechta said...


I've never heard this word used up here north of the 49th parallel.

Anyone else? Barbara? Vicki?

My family has always used “slugabed“.

Sybil Johnson said...

Ah, Aline, endings. Yesterday I was hopeful. Today I'm pretty sure I'm doomed.

Rick, I'm highly suspicious of the info on soffonsified, but that's all I could find. They used it in SH so I assumed it was a word no longer used from the 1700s. But, it's not in the OED or any other dictionary I could find. All I saw online was the Canadian reference.

Marianne Wheelaghan said...

For Sybil and Aline from Frank Kuppner!

With a yell of triumph he finishes the great work;
He slumps back in his seat, exhausted but happy;
Idly he fingers through it, and reads the very first lines;
Little by little; the smile disappears from his face.

Frank Kuppner, A Bad Day for the Sung Dynasty (Carcanet, 1984)

As for interesting words, I used to think the word juggernaut was a rather ordinary, modern word until I came across it in RLS's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (first published 1886). It suddenly became a lot more interesting :) Good luck with tracking down the history of "suffonsified"!

Marianne Wheelaghan said...

ps And good luck with finishing your ending, Sybil!

Sybil Johnson said...

Thanks, Marianne. Loved the Frank Kuppner quote. Since I'm doomed anyway, I've been watching a couple videos. I found this one particularly hilarious since I worked at Xerox many moons ago. It's a dramatization of an actual deposition where a lawyer gets in an argument about what a photocopier is.

Marianne Wheelaghan said...

Ha ha ha ... just watched the photocopier argument!

Sybil Johnson said...

Isn't that great? Feeling a little more positive today. I might actually make my deadline.