Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Runcible and other made up words

Apparently William Shakespeare introduced over 1700 words into the English language, I wonder how many he'd heard on the street and how many he actually made up.

There's a great page at with a lot of the more famous words. I was personally surprised by bedroom and eyeball, but he didn't do much more than put two words together. I don't recall being told in school that Shakespeare made up lots of words, I would probably have dismissed all the bits that didn't make sense as being made up nonsense.  It has long been a tradition to make up words either for new inventions that didn't naturally have a name or morphing older words.

Some modern new words that have appeared as if by magic are scrappage, cyberspace, jeggings and even internet, all words that weren't words but now are, some will survive and some will not. The word television is now over 100 years old. Also in a book called 500 Years Of New Words by Bill Sherk is the fact that the word nudist didn't appear before 1929, the same year that the words foreplay and spermicide first appeared. I guess with the financial crisis at the time there wasn't much else to do!

The word 'runcible' was used several times by the writer Edward Lear, often in his poems and limericks, most notably in The Owl & The Pussycat.

'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
    Your ring?' Said the Piggy, 'I will.'
So they took it away, and were married next day
    By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
    Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
    They danced by the light of the moon,
          The moon,
          The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

I hadn't really thought too much about this blog post when I started it, as Adrian Monk would say it's a blessing and a curse of mine that I don't always plan ahead, sometimes it leads to unexpected delights and others down a dead end. My main aim was to change the name of my blog, I had thought that no one else would have used the name "The Runcible Spoon", how wrong I was.

There are several blogs called The Runcible Spoon or just Runcible Spoon, there's even a cafe with that name (I'd have gone for "Mince and slices of Quince" for a cafe), so I had to rethink, what would Lear and even Shakespeare do?

Well old Bill was prone to making up words from established ones, making nouns out of verbs and vice-versa and sticking two words together, so I decided on the former and here we have "Runcibilities".

So what are "runcibilities"? They are reasons to be cheerful and things that "get your goat", things that put a fire in your belly.

Up to now in the blog, the majority of the runcibilities have been reasons to be cheerful, I won't be stopping with those and insisting everyone becomes miserable, I'll just be testing out the extremes of my runcibilities.

So welcome to my runcible world, grab a spoon and dig in.

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