Gobblefunking around with words*

After reading an article about words possibly coined by authors–including “chortle,” via Lewis Carroll–I was reminded of how many cool words there are in children’s books, even if they never made the dictionary.

My favorite: Plevvit. Interjection. Origin: My Teacher Flunked the Planet   by Bruce Coville. Example sentence: “”Plevvit!’ said Kreeblim. This was a word from her own language, and it’s so bad I have no translation for it.”

Not a word, but a random gesture: current alien and former teacher Broxholm’s reaction to television in the same book. (It’s hard to tell sometimes if the Interplanetary Council is as or even more horrified by our taste in TV as by our world hungers and wars.) Translation: “The closest translation my implant could provide was something like, ‘I spit in deep disgust upon your decision to play in your own garbage.’ Only the last word wasn’t garbage.” Perhaps it might have been something like “uckyslush” (see entry on the BFG, below).

Oobleck. Noun. Non-Newtonian fluid. Origin: Bartholomew and the Oobleck by Dr. Seuss. Example usage and recipe.

Seuss is another one. I don’t know exactly what all the gimcracks and gadgets in How the Grinch Stole Christmas are supposed to do or sound like, but I have a feeling some of them are some species of brass instrument.

And then Roald Dahl, and not just Everlasting Gobstoppers, either. Whizz popping, for instance, “a sign of happiness. It is music in our ears!” Caused by the bubbles in frobscottle (soda or pop or Coke, depending on your location). But what’s whizz popping? You will have to consult the BFG, who has his own onomatopoeic, delightfully squiggly dialect that makes perfect sense. (He reminds me a bit of Dennis’ uncle in Pleasing the Ghost. I love the BFG–he’s so earnest and gentle and a little bit sad.)

So. I’d be here all night if I listed my favorites–which might be worth a dream from the BFG, and lord knows I’m in dire need of a good one, but I have things to attend to all the same. Have you got any?

* “Don’t gobblefunk around with words.”–The BFG

About Amy

Children's librarian, Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh
This entry was posted in Books, Children's Books. Bookmark the permalink.

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