This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Monday, 12 August 2013

Spot the frippet: mopoke.

If anyone had ever asked me (and luckily no one ever has), I would have said that a mopoke is a donkey.

Goodness knows what mental connections would have led to that conclusion, perhaps a confused conflation of slowpoke and mosey - but in any case I would, as so often, have been quite, quite wrong.

This is a mopoke:

Now, before you start spluttering stuff about owls being difficult to spot because they only come out at night, and that in any case you only get mopokes in Australia and New Zealand which makes it jolly hard for the rest of us, firstly may I say that some owls do come out in the daytime; and, secondly, that I'm pretty sure there is a mopoke or two near you.

For a mopoke is not only an owl (Ninox novaseelandiae, though people often call Podargus strogoides:

File:Podargus strigoides -West Ryde, Sydney, New South Wales-8.jpg
photo by Andrew Beeston from Australia

a mopoke, too) but also a slow and lugubrious person. Someone, in other words, who enjoys being miserable so much that they seldom rush the experience.

I bet it won't take you more than half an hour to spot one of those.

Spot the frippet: mopoke. This word was coined in the 1990s and imitates the birds' call. Mind you, it has over twenty names, including morepork, ruru and boobook, so it probably isn't a very good imitation of the birds' call. 


  1. I love owls!
    I'm a Kiwi born and bred, and spent 5 years in Australia before coming to Canada, and never saw one of these darlings. Feel like I missed out!
    But I have encountered the human variety. A few times! :)

    1. There are far too mnay human mopokes about. But at least it helps a bit having a name for them.

  2. I saw a mopoke in my mirror. Unfortunately, I was so happy about having spotted the frippet, the mopoke turned into quite a happy frippet (I'm probably flamboyantly-dressed, and most definitely silly). But as with owls, I believe even the most fleeting sighting counts.

    1. How marvellous to have a comment from a mopoke! And it's even more marvellous that TWD has turned one into a frippet.

      That's thrillingly close to magic as far as I'm concerned.

      Hurray for Anon.