Fancy your word power?

In our new series British author Adam Jacot de Boinod invites you to test your language skills

1. A motion between walking and trotting (Yorkshire)
a) Nidge-nudge
b) Fidge-fadge
c) Rimble-ramble
d) Tridge-trudge

2. One of a group of clergymen in the 1940s who used to haunt the stacks of the London Library to look up the skirts of women browsing above
a) Shelf-swayer
b) Stack-stirrer
c) Cassock-shaker
d) Grille-peerer

3. A garter tied below the knee of a young man as a sign that he was about to make an offer of marriage (Burns: Halloween 1785)
a) Wooer-bab
b) Trothal-tie
c) Gaudy-gart
d) Knee-knocker

4. When the grass is high enough to hide young men and maids (1699)
a) Bunting time
b) Punting time
c) Runting time
d) Hunting time

5. To spoil a child by injudicious petting (Hampshire and Wiltshire dialects)
a) Muddle
b) Huddle
c) Spuddle
d) Vuddle

6. Shopping bags caught in trees, flapping in the wind (Irish slang 2000)
a) Baboons' balloons
b) Giants' hankies
c) Witches’ knickers
d) Angels' lost socks

7. Those who smuggle wool over to France (1696)
a) Sharpers
b) Bleaters
c) Owlers
d) Fleecers

8. Small worthless apples remaining on the tree after the crop has been gathered in (Wiltshire dialect)
a) Griggles
b) Groggles
c) Gruggles
d) Graggles

9. The pleasant smell that accompanies the first rain after a dry spell (1964)
a) Ambrosamine
b) Petrichor
c) Gaia's breath
d) Jitterbug perfume

10. Fortune-telling by watching cheese coagulate (1652)
a) Tyromancy
b) Chedomancy
c) Grommitting
d) Fromagomancy

1 B
2 D
3 A
4 A
5 D
6 C
7 C
8 A
9 B
10 A

About the author

Adam Jacot de Boinod is a British author, most famous for his works about unusual words. He has written three books, the first two (The Meaning of Tingo and Toujours Tingo) looking at words that have no equivalent in the English language, and his latest book (The Wonder of Whiffling) looking at unusual words in English.

He worked on the first series of the television panel game QI. His research on the show involved him reading an entire Albanian language dictionary and noting down any words that he found interesting. He formed the idea that there are 27 different words for moustaches and 27 words for eyebrows in Albanian, including, "vetullan" ("very bushy eyebrows"), "vetullor" ("slightly arched eyebrows") and "vetullosh" ("very thick eyebrows"). There was also a question asking the meaning of the word "vetullushe", which was claimed to be "a goat with brown eyebrows".

After leaving QI, de Boinod began to investigate other languages, examining 280 dictionaries and 140 websites. This led to the creation of his first book in 2005, The Meaning of Tingo, a book featuring words which have no equivalent in the English language, "tingo" being a word from the Pascuense language of Easter Island meaning, "to borrow things from a friend's house, one by one, until there's nothing left". He then wrote up a follow-up book entitled Toujours Tingo in 2007. In 2009, de Boinod wrote The Wonder of Whiffling, a book about unusual words in English, the word "whiffling" having several meanings, including, "one who examined candidates for degrees… an officer who cleared the way for a procession, as well as being the name of the man with the whip in Morris dancing."

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