Friday 30 April 2010


Immerd is a terribly useful word that the OED demurely defines as To bury or cover in ordure (1635). It therefore functions as a polite way of saying "in the shit", as in "If my parole officer catches me I'll be immerded" or "I can't talk now, I'm immerded in work."

The OED cites two only usages. The first is from a sermon by William Ames entitled The Saint's Security against Seducing Spirits, which runs "Do we... see some eminent professor... immerd himself in the dung of worldly wisdom", to which the answer is yes.

The second comes from Robert Browning, whom I had always considered strangely prudish. It's in an obscure poem of his called Aristophanes' Apology (1875). Aristophanes says of those whom he satirises

The only drawback to which huge delight [...]
Why, 'tis that, make a muckheap of a man,
There, pillared by your prowess, he remains,
Immortally immerded.

The word comes straight from the French merde, meaning ordure. And the French have an antonym, démerder, which due to their lax morals they are prepared to use in  political speeches. During the Nazi occupation of France Charles De Gaulle addressed the French nation by radio in a rousing speech that ended thus:

Françaises, Français, vous avez de la merde jusqu'au cou. Mais moi, qui suis plus grand que vous, je n'en ai que jusqu'aux genoux. Alors, Françaises, Français, démerdez-vous!

Which translates loosely as: Frenchwomen, Frenchmen, you are up to your necks in shit. But I, who am bigger than you, am only up to my knees in it. So, Frenchwomen, Frenchmen, unshit yourselves!


  1. I'll see your immerd and raise you a Scobberlotcher.

    (Have you a copy of Ivor Brown's Book of Words?)

  2. Ca m'emmerde! or C'est emmerdant! are two of the most common ways for a French person to express her extreme annoyance, but until today I had no idea that I could do the same thing in English.

    I'm beginning to wonder what I ever did without you.

  3. I don't have Mr Brown's book. Is it good? I'll see you scobberlotcher and raise you lollygagger, which means the same thing but once got used in the Simpsons.
    A friend was suggesting that I ought to set up a hero of the week for any journalist/TV programme that managed to get a good word onto the front page/prime-time.

  4. Try to get a copy by any means possible. (Not including mugging me for mine.) I've got the 1943 edition.

    "I had originally put the first volume together as a war-time distraction for myself, hardly expecting to distract or entertain others in any number."

    How wrong he was ... (I used an extract from his introduction as my response to the last Leaders' Debate illustrated by the synchronised leg kick photo.)

    Hero of the week is an excellent idea. And I'm still campaigning for a Problem Page: Dear Uncle Inky.

    I'll see your lollgagger and raise you a sanctimoody.

  5. I can't keep raising or I'll exhaust my magazine of useful words. I'm not sure how you would set up a problem page on blogger but will look into it.

  6. Okay, a problem page is up with a link at the top right.

  7. How about a Boggler?