‘A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.’ Winston S. Churchill.

17 Jun

queenEarlier this week on the BBC I saw the Queen give her speech in thanks for her recent 90th birthday celebrations, and as I watched I thought how lucky Her Majesty was to have someone on staff to help her write her speeches.  (I am assuming this is the case, because if she had to write all her speeches entirely by herself where the hell would she find time to do anything else?)  


Anyway, assuming the Queen does have a speechwriter I have to say I am a tad jealous.  I could really have used someone like that these last few days to help me with my words.   I have had real problems stringing a coherent sentence together all week.  And not just a sentence in the Queen’s English eithera sentence in any intelligible form whatsoever.  On more than one occasion I have had to stop, take a breath, and remind myself
‘Use your words Sally . . . use your words . . . ‘

headcoldAnd then, towards the end of this week I came down with a really severe head cold—which explained a lot.  While being ever-so-slightly pissed off about this, because, well, who needs it?—I was also quite relieved, as I had been starting to think my brain must have sprung a leak somewhere.  But being under the weather, and seemingly in a perpetual brain-fog, did make me more aware of just how much I depend on my words—and how much I like words and miss them when I can’t find them.

(Well, I like most words.  I don’t like acronyms—and I am not even sure they count as real words anyway, even though they are pronounced as such.  And I don’t like initialisms either, as it turns out.  Did you know there was a difference between an acronym and an initialism?  I didn’t, and I am not really sure I needed to know that either, but there you go . . . )

wineoclockBut, aside from these, I do like to learn new words, and it seems that there are new words being invented and added to our English repertoire all the time.  An earlier update to the Oxford Dictionary (August 2015) had almost 1,000 new words and phrases (including slang) added to it.  Some of these included manspreading, nuff said and awesomesauce.

Happily, the words beer o’clock and wine o’clock also made the grade. 🙂

New words are good (the first 2016 updates are starting to appear in the dictionaries now) but what about the old words?  What about words we never see or hear used any more?  What happens to them?

groakThis week I came across the word Groak.  (I am not sure what I was looking for but ‘groak’ definitely wasn’t it.)  Groak means ‘to stare silently at someone while they are eating, in the hopes that they will give you some of their food’.  Anyone who has ever had a dog, and likes a dinner of sausages on occasion, will be intimately aware of having been ‘groaked’ . . .  So cool that I now have a word to put with that look.

Wondering what other weird and wonderful words I could find I did a bit of research and discovered that there are a huge number of archaeic or obsolete words that have now gone out of fashion.  I have noted down some of the more colourful ones for you (and this is only a tiny selection . . . ) 

bibble:  to drink often; to eat and/or drink noisily
(so Saturday night at the pub, then)

brabble:  to argue loudly about something inconsequential
(probably at the same time you are bibbling)

slubberdegullion:  a slovenly, slobbering person
(someone you know leaving the pub in complete ‘cattywampus’ (see next entry))

cattywampus: in disarray

crapulous:  to feel ill because of excessive eating/drinking
(as in ‘I’m feeling totally crapulous today.’  It seems some words haven’t changed so very much at all.)

callipygian:  Having beautifully shaped buttocks
(Okay nothing to do with the pub . . . unless the barmaid or barman is thus endowed.)

doodlesack: old English word for bagpipe
(Not at all what I thought of I when I first saw this word.)

tittynope:  a small quantity of something left over
(Again, not my first guess.)

borborygmus: sound of intestinal gas
(and we’re back to eating and drinking at the pub again . . . )

Mogigraphia:  Writer’s Cramp
(A signal to wrap this post up? ) 

bagpipeI’m thinking I should send a short note to the Queen, drawing her attention to some of her country’s long forgotten words and suggesting that it might be a good idea to have one or two of them surreptitiously slipped in to one of her next speeches

‘Members of Parliament have been meeting regularly this year, bibbling and brabbling in constant cattywampus, while one lone piper has valiantly piped forlornly on his doodlesack trying to cover the constant borborygmus . . . .’

Perhaps I shouldn’t hold out too much hope for an interview for the next speechwriter’s job opening . . .


Posted by on June 17, 2016 in Uncategorized


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20 responses to “‘A good speech should be like a woman’s skirt; long enough to cover the subject and short enough to create interest.’ Winston S. Churchill.

  1. ig

    August 2, 2017 at 2:48 pm

    Thanks for one’s marvelous posting! I quite enjoyed reading it, you
    are a great author. I will always bookmark your blog and will often come back sometime soon. I want to encourage that you continue your great job, have a
    nice day!


    • sallyinthehaven

      August 3, 2017 at 7:24 am

      Thank you!



    July 26, 2017 at 2:02 pm

    I laughed out loud to #11. Thanks for making my morning.
    boucles d’oreilles alhambra van cleef arpels or blanc faux


    • sallyinthehaven

      July 27, 2017 at 7:48 am

      You are very welcome! 🙂


  3. Bonny

    July 20, 2017 at 1:21 pm

    Saved as a favorite, I actually like your site!


    • sallyinthehaven

      July 21, 2017 at 7:22 am

      Thank you Bonny! 🙂


  4. Cecelia

    June 15, 2017 at 3:50 am

    Hi , I do consider this is a superb blog. I stumbled upon it on Yahoo ,
    I ‘ll return once again.


    • sallyinthehaven

      June 16, 2017 at 10:50 am

      Thank you. 🙂


  5. Jon

    June 20, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Love new words too. Borborygmus a new one for me and most appealing! Great piece. David Astle would approve I’m sure.

    Liked by 1 person

    • sallyinthehaven

      June 20, 2016 at 11:13 am

      Is he into fart jokes too?

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Pam Talbot

    June 18, 2016 at 10:21 am

    Sally I believe you suffer from floccinaucinihilipilification & you shouldn’t, as this blog absolutely ensorcelled me! (Source: Oxford Dictionary) 😆

    Liked by 1 person

    • sallyinthehaven

      June 18, 2016 at 11:12 am

      OMG I seem to have started something! Yay for floccinaucinihilipilification and ensorcellment . . . may there be lots more of it. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Judy

        June 18, 2016 at 11:21 am

        It reminds me of Column 8 in the SMH Sal, where the editor eventually says enough already on this topic! However, just have to share my starting piece when I’m training to show them how easy it is to break down medical terms to understand and pronounce them. I write
        Pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis on the whiteboard … then take a bow..once a ham always a ham! Hope you and the girls have a lovely weekend.

        Liked by 2 people

  7. stevetalbot51

    June 17, 2016 at 3:44 pm

    Very very good Sal !!
    I try and learn at least one or two new words each day, but today with your help I have over achieved. Will celebrate at beer o’clock (soon) 🙂


    • sallyinthehaven

      June 18, 2016 at 7:51 am

      Beer o’clock for you . . . wine o’clock for me. All’s right with the world. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Judy

    June 17, 2016 at 10:31 am

    Had to take a screen shot of your list of ye olde words so I can learn them!


    • sallyinthehaven

      June 18, 2016 at 7:49 am

      I have the website address where I got all these words on my office computer. I’ll send it to you next week so you can learn some more. 🙂


  9. Judy

    June 17, 2016 at 10:28 am

    Brilliant Sally…you have certainly found your bailiwick!


    • sallyinthehaven

      June 18, 2016 at 7:48 am

      Glad you enjoyed it. Got to use my new ‘groak’ word twice last night and once this morning already . . . Is Paddington Bear a groaker too?


      • Judy

        June 18, 2016 at 10:37 am

        Total groaker Sal. I love that FB post of the black lab looking longingly at his dad with the think bubble “I see you have cheese sanmich and I have no cheese sanmich”! Looking forward to looking at that website. What about Pam’s doozies …. on my way to look them up now……



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