This blog is for everyone who uses words.

The ordinary-sized words are for everyone, but the big ones are especially for children.

Friday, 4 January 2013

Word To Use Today: spug.

After all that rich food and entertainment I thought it might be nice to reflect on something small and plain.

A spug, in fact. Or a spuggy: they're the same thing.

This, if you're from the North of England, is a spug:

House Sparrow
Photo by Darren Lewis.

I'm afraid that image is a bit big, but it's worth looking at, isn't it. A spug (or a house sparrow, as most people call them) isn't just a boring brown thing, is it?

Even the females are beautiful:

though they're rather bossy and tend to rule the roost despite being smaller than the males.

The spug comes originally from Europe and Asia, but it's been taken to Africa and Australia and America:

see the nest hole?

In fact spugs have got themselves more or less everywhere. They've bred in an English coal mine 640 m below ground, and fed at the top of the Empire Stare Building. They're the wild bird with the largest distribution in the world.

We humans have lived with spugs for around 10,000 years, and they've come to represent vulgarity (as in my little Cockney sparrow) and, rather surprisingly, romantic desire.

When I was young the old men used to talk of catching spugs with back-flapping nets. The nets were on large frames, and people would beat the hedgerows at night to make the spugs fly up into them.

Gosh, we wouldn't be so fat if we'd had spuggy pie for dinner, instead of turkey, would we.

For one thing, hardly any of us could be able to bring ourselves to eat it.

Word To Use Today: spug. Sparrow is a lovely word, but spugs are birds with attitude and I think spug encapsulates that beautifully.

It's a variant of the Scottish sprug.

G37The sparrow hieroglyph was probably a sign meaning small, narrow, or bad.

On the other hand, there are those who say it meant "a prolific man" or "the revolution of a year".

If you see an Ancient Egyptian, do ask.


  1. Love this word and had never heard it before .I will call the sparrows in my garden SPUG as an afffectionate nickname! Lovely.

    ps. I never see Ancient Egyptians round here!

  2. Perhaps anyone near the British Museum, an Egyptologist - or, indeed, Egypt - could try to find out for us.

    I, for one, would love to know.

  3. also sprug which can be played in Scrabble, but not spug