Sunday, June 5, 2011

For the Love of Sniddle, Moff and Cheewink


Foyle's Philavery - Christopher Foyle
Perhaps you've discovered this book already and I am but late to the party, but it's a treasure-trove for any word freak. Christophor Foyle, over his years at Foyle's Bookstore in London, England, has collected unusual, quirky, little-known and infrequently used words, (sniddle, moff, cheewink, slubberdegullian, to name but a few) and offers them to us as a gift of splendacious fabulousity.  I could fill the page with all the words that delight me, so I'll try to restrain myself with these few - for now.

sniddle:  "1. coarse grass, rushed or sedge 2. stubble" (pg 195) As in: "My, what's that adorning your jaw, dear Rhett; is it the new fashion, then? Come closer, let me run my hands over your lovely, grey-flecked sniddle."

moff:  "a silk fabric from the Caucasus" (pg 139)  "The toff doffs his moff bowler in your general direction."

sluberdegullion - "a mean, slovenly oaf " (pg 195) .... need a great password? nickname for a grumpy, less-than-tidy cat? 

cheewink - a wonderful, alternate name for towhees, those ground-loving, long-tailed members of the finch family, Piplilo erythrophthalmus (aka ground robin). They have a high-pitched, single-note call, like chink! ... then a few seconds ... chink! used to establish territory and communicate.  If you have several nearby (as we do) and they start calling back and forth, it's like someone tuning a set of vibraphones of very narrow range. Cheewink is a such a better name for them, onomatopoetically speaking.  (pg 40)

The best news? There's already a second collection: "Foyle's Further Philavery." Don't say I didn't warn you. 

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