Sunday, August 21, 2011

I Need to Talk to You About Your Saliva Problem

It’s a fine word whose meaning can be guessed just by the way it sounds — like fizz or waffle or Filipino. The word of the week is one of these.
slubberdegullion (SLUHB-er-dee-GUHLL-ee-un) — noun: 1. a filthy, slobbering person; a solven, villain or louse. 2. A worthless person. 3. A drunk and/or an alcoholic.
A visual aid:

World Wide Words points out that even if you don’t know what it means, “nobody hearing it could possibly consider it a compliment.” It’s a valid point; whether you conclude that slubberdegullion means “individual who is disliked for some reason” or “tiny organ that malfunctions and consequently fills its host body with toxic pus,” you know to take offense when the word is applied to you. (I cannot imagine someone interpreting anything aside from these two meanings.) Though used all too rarely today, the word has been making members of the English-speaking world feel bad about their prodigious saliva creation since 1610, according to Etymonline. World Wide Words notes that slubberdegullion once appeared in print in the company of a great many other strange but appropriately mean-sounding words in Urquhart’s 1653 translation of Gargantua and Pantagruel. Rarely has such a list been compiled, I’d guess, except maybe by a Simpsons writer looking to compile a list of insults for Mr. Burns to call Homer. (Okay, fine, I’ve been watching The Simpsons this weekend.) Anyway, read this:
The bun-sellers or cake-makers were in nothing inclinable to their request; but, which was worse, did injure them most outrageously, called them prattling gabblers, lickorous gluttons, freckled bittors, mangy rascals, shite-a-bed scoundrels, drunken roysters, sly knaves, drowsy loiterers, slapsauce fellows, slabberdegullion druggels, lubberly louts, cozening foxes, ruffian rogues, paltry customers, sycophant-varlets, drawlatch hoydens, flouting milksops, jeering companions, staring clowns, forlorn snakes, ninny lobcocks, scurvy sneaksbies, fondling fops, base loons, saucy coxcombs, idle lusks, scoffing braggarts, noddy meacocks, blockish grutnols, doddipol-joltheads, jobbernol goosecaps, foolish loggerheads, flutch calf-lollies, grouthead gnat-snappers, lob-dotterels, gaping changelings, codshead loobies, woodcock slangams, ninny-hammer flycatchers, noddypeak simpletons, turdy gut, shitten shepherds, and other suchlike defamatory epithets; saying further, that it was not for them to eat of these dainty cakes, but might very well content themselves with the coarse unranged bread, or to eat of the great brown household loaf.
It’s worth noting that Urquhart uses the alternate spelling slabberdegullion and uses the word as an adjective, but it’s even more worth nothing the adjective shite-a-bed exists, because you may have not been using it enough so far in you life. Today is the day that changes, lest I have reason to call you a turdy-gutted milksop.

Previous words of the week after the jump.
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