Monday 3 October 2011


Some words seem to have been invented just so that they could be used as names for characters in a Charles Dickens novel, or by children's authors. Such a word is dungle. I can just imagine old Professor Dungle pottering about his library, or Mr and Mrs Dungle being the evil family with whom our orphan-hero is forced to live.

In fact, though, dungle has a precise and clear meaning. It's a verb and it means to throw something onto a dunghill; once there the thing is said to be dungled.

It's worthwhile noticing that a dungled person is liable to end up sharny-faced, which is an old Scottish term for bedaubed with dung.

I'm glad I don't live in Old Scotland. However, I also reckon that I could get away with calling somebody sharny-faced and making it sound like a compliment.

As we're on the subject of dunghills, I cannot but quote John Lyly's lovely lines:

It is the disposition of the thought that altereth the nature of the thing. The sun shineth upon the dunghill and is not corrupted, the diamond lieth in the fire and is not consumed, the crystal toucheth the toad and is not poisoned, the trochilus liveth by the mouth of the crocodile and is not spoiled,

This is all terribly true, however the last clause is a bunch of crap:

a perfect wit is never bewitched with lewdness neither enticed with lasciviousness.


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