This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Friday, 6 December 2013

Word To Use Today: bung.

It's the season of damp, decay, mist, mirk, cloudburst* and cold here in England at the moment.

Worst of all, it's the season of colds.

People are all bunged up.

It's rather a nice word, bung (though it's a pity it's so hard to say with a blocked nose).

Bungs are generally made of something slightly squidgy, like cork or rubber. I used to use bungs to stop up flasks in chemistry. Casks have bungs, too.

wine barrel bungs

Noses and drains can also be bunged up, but I don't even want to think about that.

In Britain and Australia, however, if we use the slang term to bung something, the chances are that we aren't stopping up a hole in it, but throwing it; unless, that is, we're using another bit of British slang, where bung means either a tip or, more probably, a bribe; or a third bit of British slang, where he's bunging it on a bit means he's making an idiot of himself pretending to be clever.

If someone is bung in Australia or New Zealand, though, he's useless; and if he's gone bung then he's failed, collapsed, or even died.

Which is almost enough to reconcile ourselves to being bunged up with cold.

But not quite.

Word To Use Today: bung. The stopper and chucking word comes from the Middle Dutch boghe, from the Late Latin puncta, puncture. The bribe word might come from the Old English pung, which meant purse. The useless word comes from a Australian Yagara bang, which means dead.

*But then here it's always the season for cloudburst.

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