Friday 25 June 2010


A correspondent has asked me to give the final, definitive, Ex Cathedra pontification on snuck as a past participle of sneak. The subject has, it seems, been much argued on the Internet: here and here.

I know an answer to this insoluble question, but I won't tell the world what it is unless the world first does something for me. Here are my three demands and none are negotiable:

1) The plural of mongoose shall be mongeese. I care for neither dictionary nor derivation. They are mongeese.

2) The past participle of fit shall be fat, following the hallowed pattern of sit/sat and shit/shat.

3) The plural of toothbrush shall be toothbri. I don't know why, in fact I hate Latin pluralisations. Perhaps I feel that it should be teethbrushes, senseless though that may be. Mrs Malaprop suggests toothbroi and I would be willing to compromise. But I abhor toothbrushes.

Once my three whimsies are acceded to by all speakers of English, I shall reveal the terrible truth of snuck.


P.S. This from New Orleans in 1887: "He grubbed ten dollars from de bums an den snuck home."


  1. It's always bothered me that the plural of "smurf" ( is not smurves.

  2. Mongoose/geese and fit/fat I'll go with, but for toothbrush I'd prefer teethbri, as the original word ought to have been teethbrush for everyone but very young babies who only have one tooth.

  3. The Antipodean26 June 2010 at 10:34

    What are baby mongeese (j'adore!) called?

    And, for the record, I prefer snuck and think I use it in spoken language, but can't recall a requirement to write either snuck or sneaked in, well, anything.

  4. As long as you don't EVER use squoze instead of squeezed. (It's fairly common here and makes me shiver with dismay.)

    Dirty and squeeze are two words destined to become extinct - according to an article in The Times last October. Which will put a lot of sex line operators onto the ever-increasing unemployment register...