Where’s your ‘fossilling’ brush? Lucy Mangan does some digging and ‘gigging’ with your new word submissions

I’m doing a gig! Previously I have just sat at my desk and written this blog on a laptop and in a state of questionable personal hygiene, but this time – I’m gigging! Because I, as a freelance, am now part of the “gig economy”, a term which was submitted this month by AustinAllegro after coming to public prominence during the recent presidential candidate skirmishes over in the good ol’ US of A. It means – well, freelancing. Doing bits and pieces of work for different employers. Enjoying the freedom of a peripatetic and patchwork week. And the thrill of peripatetic and patchwork finances and the lack of holiday, sick or maternity pay. Enduring the anxious and baffled stares of parents whose friends’ children all work nine to five, eat lunches at lunchtime and shovel money into pensions at the end of the month. Wondering sweatily when the next station on the route to Solvency State will appear. Oh the glamour of gigging. The glamour.

Tikitaka may be a fellow member of this nomadic tribe, given the number of terms he or she has submitted about the freelance’s eternal friend, Scrabble. There’s ‘brailling’ – illicitly feeling the face of a letter before you pull it out of the bag (not to be confused with ‘brailing’, which is furling the sails of a boat by pulling on its brails, which is liable to upset the board). There’s ‘alphagram’, which is the arrangement of the letters of a word into aaabcehillpt deorr. And there’s “nongo” which is a “bingo” (a seven letter word) you can’t play, which of course can equally well be called an “agono” as you fall to the ground writhing in fathomless pain.

(Incidentally, I consider being bad at Scrabble a word nerd badge of honour. My sister beats me every time because although she’s never read a book she is a master strategist who can think in six dimensions at once. I just put down the most pleasing words, in order to admire them, with nary a thought for the morrow. To the victor the bragging right spoils but to the loser the moral satisfaction of a job well done. I say.)

New contributor kimpeluffo (hello! Welcome!) gives us “fossilling” – hunting for fossils – which I at first thought was a bit of a missed opportunity for fossil hunters (though it did pleasingly remind me of one of my very favourite words, which is “fossicking”. If I ever get to play that on a Scrabble board I shall simply combust with joy. And although it’s usually used to mean sifting through earth for gold and other treasures, I don’t see why it couldn’t be used for searching for fossils too). Then I realised that “fossil” comes from the Latin “fossilis” and literally means “obtained by digging.” So “fossilling” becomes a fine follower in a staunchly no-nonsense etymological tradition. Splendid.

My own contribution is “crowdbirthing”. Apparently it is now The Thing amongst young women to have an average of eight people in the room with you while you push your offspring through the ill-designed orifice of evolutionary oversight. I like the word. Regarding my opinion of the concept, I have no words. I’m going to try some pethidine and see if it becomes any easier to dilate upon the subject, but I suspect I shall labour in vain.

See you next time.

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