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No one knows how to spin a yarn like Roald Dahl! He was the master of colourful characters and spellbinding stories and his splendiferous imagination was responsible for some of the greatest children’s books of our times. Did you know Roald Dahl invented 500 words and character names, from the Oompa-Loompas, Rumpledumpus, Skillywiggler, Uckyslush, and Whizzpopping to the less well-known humplecrimp, lixiviate, and zoonk? He also coined the term “gobblefunk”, the name we now give to the lexicon of words he invented.
Like William Shakespeare, Lewis Carroll and Dr. Seuss, Dahl’s books are based on a language without boundaries and that makes them unique. The characters in Roald Dahl’s books don’t just laugh, they “churgle”. He uses plenty of alliteration, onomatopoeia, anagrams, and portmanteaus in his work. This helps the characters communicate complex feelings and emotions to their young readers.
The Oxford Roald Dahl Dictionary, compiled by Dr. Susan Rennie has listed the words distinct to Dahl’s books, whether they’re familiar terms imbued with new meaning or entirely made-up phrases. This book is an unconventional tool for teaching kids how to read as well as an detailed survey of Dahl’s contribution to literary history. The dictionary covers interesting facts, mini-etymologies, and usage points for a range of everyday words from Dahl’s books, but the real fun starts in the sections on “gobblefunking” with words. Gobblefunk, a verb of Dahl’s own invention, means to play creatively with sound and meaning—something the author excelled at.
Today as we celebrate – Roald Dahl Day, let us take a look back at some of the whiz-poppingly brilliant words he coined! From “argy” to “zozimus,” these are just 20 of the magnificent expressions the late, great author left behind:
If you feel biffsquiggled, you are confused or puzzled. The word biffsquiggled is made up of biff ‘punch’ and squiggled, as when you are biffsquiggled, you feel as if your brain is reeling from a punch and is as muddled as a squiggly piece of doodling.
“’You must not be giving up so easy,’ the BFG said calmly. ‘The first titchy bobsticle you meet and you begin shouting you is biffsquiggled.’” –The BFG
If you bish something, you ruin it.
“’This is it!’ he whispered to himself under his breath. ‘The greatest moment of my life is coming up now! I mustn’t bish it. I mustn’t bosh it! I must keep very calm.’” -Esio Trot
A bundongle is something that contains only air.
“I thought all human beans is full of brains, but your head is emptier than a bundongle.” –The BFG
When you churgle, you gurgle with laughter.
“The fact that it was none other than Boggis’s chickens they were going to eat made them churgle with laughter every time they thought of it.” –Fantastic Mr. Fox
A fizzwiggler is someone who is mean and cruel. The BFG thinks that Mrs. Clonkers is a real fizzwiggler because she is cruel to the children in the norphanage.
“’The filthy old fizzwiggler!’ shouted the BFG. ‘That is the horridest thing I is hearing for years!’” –The BFG
Grand and spectacular.
“’So now!’ barked the Grand High Witch. ‘So now I am having a plan! I am having a giganticus plan for getting rrrid of every single child in the whole of Inkland!’” –The Witches
Pure Marvelousness. Gloriumptious is made up by blending together two words- glorious and scrumptious.
‘It’s gloriumptious.’” –The BFG
A big gulp or swallow.
“I’ll bet if you saw a fat juicy little child paddling in the water over there at this very moment, you’d gulp him up in one gollup!” –The Enourmous Crocodile
A very mean or grumpy person.
“George … was especially tired of having to live in the same house as that grizzly old grunion of a Grandma.” –George’s Marvellous Medicine
Something horrigust is truly horrible and disgusting.
“You is saying it is grizzling and horrigust for giants to be eating human beans, right or left?” –The BFG
If you feel jumpsy, you feel anxious and the slightest thing will make you jump.
“’I is nervous myself,’ the BFG whispered. ‘I always gets as jumpsy as a joghopper when the Fleshlumpeating Giant is around.’” –The BFG
Someone who doesn’t do very much, or will never amount to much.
“’The Queen of England,’ Sophie said. ‘You can’t call her a squifflerotter or a grinksludger … You can’t call her a squeakpip or a notmucher either.’” –The BFG
Very small and unimportant.
“You is not fit to be a giant! You is a squinky little squiddler! You is a pibbling little pitsqueak.” –The BFG
If something is plexicated, it is complicated and difficult to do or make.
“’Stay there please,’ he said, ‘and no chittering. I is needing to listen only to silence when I is mixing up such a knotty plexicated dream as this.’” -The BFG
Something wonderfully exciting or enjoyable.
“I must say it’s quite an experience,’ Sophie said. ‘It’s a razztwizzler,’ the BFG said. ‘It’s gloriumptious.’” –The BFG
If someone talks rommytot, they are talking nonsense.
“’Human beans is juicier,’ the Bloodletter said. ‘You is talking rommytot,’ the BFG said, growing braver by the second.” –The BFG
Very pleasing. Delectable. Delicious.
“‘I is reading it hundreds of times,’ the BFG said. ‘And I is still reading it and teaching new words to myself and how to write them. It is the most scrumdiddlyumptious story.’ – The BFG
Remarkably fine; magnificent and splendid.
“Your granddad,” he said, “my own dad, was a magnificent and splendiferous poacher. It was he who taught me all about it.” – Danny, the Champion of the World
Telly-telly bunkum box
“’If you do go back, you will be telling the world,’ said the BFG, ‘most likely on the telly-telly bunkum box and the radio squeaker.’” –The BFG
Zozimus is what dreams are made of.
“Dreams is not like human beans or animals. They has no brains. They is made of zozimus.” –The BFG
Here are some for you to try and figure out! I hope you don’t get lixivated with all of these words!!
Take a peek into more such made-up words from children’s literature!