by Adam Bieganski, 5 years ago

G'wan read about sniglets in Ireland. You know you want to....

In English there is this notion of "sniglets" - words that are not (yet) in the dictionary, but should. The word was coined and popularised by Rich Hall on the 1980s HBO comedy series Not Necessarily the News.

The word "sniglet" was a sniglet itself, before it actually made it into dictionaries - becoming a neologism. Most sniglets are usually meant as puns and jokes, i.e. the actual need for them to be in the dictionary is not that pressing; some of them are very funny and/or clever, for example:

hypocracy - n. a political system controlled by hypocrites.

ignoranus - n. a person who's both stupid and an asshole.

giraffiti - n. vandalism spray-painted very, very high.

There are some which actually did make it into dictionaries of English, like "truthiness" coined by Stephen Colbert.

In Ireland

As it happens, Ireland has its own characteristic answer to almost every phenomenon in the world. The idea of people coming up with sniglets has been tried out here as well, of course.

Just a couple of days ago I wrote about Irish English and 'G'wan', only to stumble upon this old article today:

A radio station was running a competition – words that weren’t in the dictionary yet could still be used in a sentence that would make logical sense. The prize was a trip to Bali.

DJ: “96 FM here, what’s your name?”

Caller: “Hi, my name’s Dave.”

DJ: “Dave, what’s your word?”

Caller: “Goan... spelt G-O-A-N pronounced ‘go-an’.”

DJ: “You are correct, Dave, ‘goan’ is not in the dictionary. Now, for a trip to Bali: What sentence can you use that word in >that would make sense?”

Caller: “Goan fuck yourself!”

The DJ cut the caller off and took other calls, all unsuccessful until:

DJ: “96 FM, what’s your name?”

Caller: “Hi, me name’s Jeff.”

DJ: “Jeff, what’s your word?”

Caller: “Smee, spelt S-M-E-E, pronounced ‘smee’.”

DJ: “You are correct, Jeff, ‘smee’ is not in the dictionary. Now, for a trip to Bali: What sentence can you use that word in that would make sense?”

Caller: “Smee again! Goan fuck yourself!”?


I'm not sure these two will ever make it into the OED, though...

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