Saturday, 17 January 2009


Further to Frank’s quiz last night, what is a runcible spoon?
Apparently, it is an invented word. Edward Lear liked the sound of it and he loved to invent words, and used it in a number of his verses. There’s a runcible hat appearing in one of them.

But then, decades after his death, definitions began to appear in dictionaries. These days it’s often defined as kind of pickle fork with a sharpened edge and three tines, or as a grapefruit spoon.

But it’s nonsense, because when Lear invented the word (or any of his invented words) he never had any intentions of it actually meaning anything.

Anyway, as a matter of interest, here’s the full poem:

I

The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat,
They took some honey, and plenty of money,
Wrapped up in a five pound note.
The Owl looked up to the stars above,
And sang to a small guitar,'O lovely Pussy! O Pussy my love,
What a beautiful Pussy you are,
You are,
What a beautiful Pussy you are!'

II
Pussy said to the Owl, 'You elegant fowl!
How charmingly sweet you sing!
O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
But what shall we do for a ring?'
They sailed away, for a year and a day,
To the land where the Bong-tree grows
And there in a wood a Piggy-wig stood
With a ring at the end of his nose,
His nose,
With a ring at the end of his nose.


III
'Dear pig, are you willing to sell for one shilling
Your ring?'
Said the Piggy, 'I will.
'So they took it away, and were married next day
By the Turkey who lives on the hill.
They dined on mince, and slices of quince,
Which they ate with a runcible spoon;
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
They danced by the light of the moon,
The moon,
They danced by the light of the moon.

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