This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Thing Not To Do Today: get in a guddle.

Guddle was always much too lovely a word to stay where it was put.

It started off meaning gargle or guzzle, but it branched out quite soon and came into general use in the 1800s with the meaning to catch fish with the bare hands.

Guddling is sometimes used nowadays to mean tickling for trout (which is, I understand, a calm, skilled, and careful process) but to  begin with it meant to grope about under stones and grab at anything that felt as if it might be tasty.

This process was far from calm or careful.

From there guddle soon came to mean anything that involved a lot of splashing about, and then to mean a mess or muddle, either the sort of muddle people might get into trying to persuade a computer tell them the time of the next bus to Marble Arch, or the sort of mess people might have in their garage, their accounts, or their relationships.

If you must get in a guddle today I think I'd go for the splashing-about option.

Thing Not To Do Today: get in a guddle. This is mostly a Scots word which appeared between 1810 and 1820. No one knows where it came from, but some people say it mimics the sound of someone splashing about in water.

Personally, I would find this more convincing if guddle did indeed sound like someone splashing about in water.


  1. I thought it was a fun word for guzzling, and maybe even for tickling for trout.
    But it got ruined.
    The Scots also used it to mean to cut awkwardly, or to mangle.
    I don't think it's quite proper to call my husband a great, greedy guddler any more! :)

    1. That's interesting. It sounds as if it could be a useful word to describe cutting up a pie. Thanks, Jingles.

  2. Defintely one to use...lovely to learn it!

  3. A word, I fear, with daily applications.