From offendicles to plorker: Lucy Mangan takes on your new word submissions

I’ve just been on holiday to north Norfolk and paid a visit to the shrine in Walsingham with my friend, a fellow lapsed Catholic, to buy (it’s free if you take your own bottle, but we’re so lapsed we forgot) for still-practising members of our families what she refers to as “hok(e)y” water. It works better in speech, when the overcomplicating vowel effectively drops out of the matter. I thought this was going to be my favourite religious term of the week but it is just pipped to the post by Daved Wachsman’s contribution, “offendicle” meaning a spiritual stumbling block to, as best I can make out to those of either the true – ahem – or reformed faith. Thus I am diverted from my mockery of the former. Truly the ways of God are strange, eh?

On a structurally similar but in all other ways entirely different note – although there is an element of divination involved, it rests on an examination of evidence so forensic that it should sate even Sir Richard of Dawkins – Artimus submits “offacle”. This is someone with the gift – curse? – of being able to recognise the constituent parts of the animal that has been used in a sausage.

I’ve thought about it a bit more now. Chicken bums. Pig lips. “Cartridges filled with the sweepings of the abattoirs” as H L Mencken described his native hotdog. That is definitely a curse. Peace and Pepto-Bismol be with you offacles all.

Let us turn to happier things. RobertG, for instance, who has contributed a plethora of delights for us this week. “Promposal” – an elaborate and public invitation extended from boy to girl (and, it is to be hoped in these enlightened times, in all other combinations and directions too) to the prom. “Plorking” – work that is so enjoyable it feels like play, or play that is in some way educational or improving, it is claimed, although I must say that it sounds to me more like the practice of filling sausages with something at best pork-like, or some kind of post-prom activity that you’d better not tell your mother about. I also enjoyed “cord-cutter” – someone who has abandoned traditional television and media broadcasts and streams everything he/she wants via the internet. Very neat.

Scraze”, from alz1305, denotes an injury somewhere between a scrape and a graze. To name a thing, they say, is to gain mastery over it. I hope that this will help my toddler next time his ambition outstrips his minimal physical coordination and we have to embark on another convoluted conversation about the resultant injuries, appropriate degree of grief, attention and treatment but I fear that if I give him another possible description it will just open up another world of Jesuitical niceties, and pain – for me.

Finally, there is Hafsillia’sbantasie” – a novel that falls into both the fantasy and comedy genres. I can’t think of one. I don’t read much fantasy and what I have come across in the past has suggested to me that jokes therein are about as welcome as a six-sided die at a Dungeons and Dragons tournament. But suggestions, please. As a plorker, my door is always open.

Lucy Mangan is the author of Inside Charlie’s Chocolate Factory: the Complete Story of Roald Dahl’s Most Famous Creation

Other Articles

Words matter: thoughts on language and Black History Month

The work of historians is increasingly emphasising something that many in the Black community have known for a long time: the profound influence of Africa and the Caribbean on British culture. Last month, I began a PhD and my research is focused on mahogany in English country houses. Chippendale cabinets… Read More

Blah-blah-blah… 6 unusual words when you’re lost for words

The climate emergency continues to be an urgent challenge for the planet, with a whole wave of new words entering the dictionary to describe its impact and influence, from single-use and plogging to climate strike. Last week, Greta… Read More

Celebrate National Poetry Day

This year’s annual National Poetry Day, the thirty-eighth, falls on Thursday 7 October. National Poetry Day (NPD) was founded in 1994 by an arts charity – the Forward Arts Foundation – and has gone from strength to strength, boosting, inter alia, sales of poetry: the graph… Read More