Here's a new book that should produce a lot of snirtles and goistering, even among pozzy-wallahs and stridewallops.
In "The Wonder of Whiffling" ($28.95, Particular Books, 248 pages), former BBC researcher Adam Jacot de Boinod unearths the meanings of hundreds of mellifluous words and phrases, from "crambazzled" (an old Yorkshire term for someone prematurely aged through drink and a dissolute life) to "cuddle-puddle" (contemporary New York slang for a heap of exhausted ravers).
While many of the terms have an Olde English bearing, De Boinod's criteria were "all that raises an eyebrow, from Anglo-Saxon to Trailer Park Slang, from the origin of English right up to the contemporary," he said.
The man certainly has experience in this realm. His previous work, "The Meaning of Tingo," documents interesting expressions from all over the globe, such as "nahkur," Persian for a camel that won't give milk until her nostrils are tickled, and "pana po'o," Hawaiian for "to scratch your head in order to remember something."
Upon turning to English, De Boinod uncovered such hoary gems as "shot-clog," a 16th-century term for an unwelcome drinking companion, tolerated because he pays for the drinks, and "chippi-birdie," a promise made to a child to pacify him/her.
But he also has an ear for the here and now, with such expressions as "headless nail," office jargon for a worker who, once employed, however unsuitable he proved, is impossible to remove, and "trout pout," Brit-slang for the effects of collagen injections that produce comically oversized lips resembling a dead fish's instead of attractive ones.
All that research, not surprisingly, has expanded De Boinot's vocabulary: He says he regularly uses "crambazzled" -- presumably not to describe himself.
Oh, and for the record, "snirtles" are quiet, restrained laughs, "goistering" is raucous feminine guffawing, "pozzy-wallahs" are men inordinately fond of jam, and "stridewallops" are tall and awkward women.