Wednesday 22 December 2010


Those readers who are less festive than restive, and who feel that Christmas is the season to be anything other than merry, may resort to having the mulligrubs. It's such a charming way of saying that you're in a bad mood that your malevolence will be instantly forgotten.

The word pops up in The Harangues or Speeches of Quack Doctors of 1719:

See, Sirs, see here!
A Doctor rare,
who travels much at home!
Here, take my bills,
I cure all ills,
Past, present, and to come
The cramp, the stitch
The squirt, the itch,
The gout, the stone, the pox
The mulligrubs
The bonny scrubs,
And all Pandora's box.
Thousands I’ve Dissected,
Thousands new erected,
And such Cures effected,
As none e’er can tell.

The bonny scrubs is an itch, although why that should be bonny I really don't know.

P.S. Mulligrubs also seems to have been the name of a very strange Australian children's programme.


  1. Damn it, now I have the theme song stuck in my head - this could take weeks to recover from.

    I've never thought about what the word meant: why on earth would you use that as the name of a children's show?

  2. Superb word, although one's bad mood is at risk of not being taken seriously with such a descriptor.

    Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to Dogberry, M. Forsyth and all other contributors to this wonderful blog.

  3. Mulligrubs makes my scrotum itch. Happy New Year and Merry Christmas to all with itchy scrotums.