This blog is for everyone who uses words.

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

Monday, 10 September 2018

Spot the Frippet: gong.

Is gong the best onomatopoeic word in the English language? I can't think of a more pleasingly dramatic one.

Gongs are essentially Eastern in origin, and quite often to be spotted as part of the decorative scheme in Oriental restaurants.

Large houses also traditionally keep a small gong in the hall to summon the inhabitants to dinner.

It is a legal requirement for any ship over a hundred metres in length to carry a gong (as well as a bell and a whistle); the German radio time signal uses a gong; and so do boxing matches to signal the beginning and end of rounds (well, it's called a gong, anyway, even if it doesn't always sound much like one). 

Berlioz uses a gong when laying people to rest in his Requiem; and traditional alarm clocks use them to get people up.

File:Roman numerals on alarm clock (Unsplash).jpg
photo by Ales Krivek

In the 1500s in Britain we used to have gong farmers, who went around emptying cesspits (though I can't help wondering in this case if this was a misprint for pong).

In Britain medals, especially medals for bravery or as a mark of distinction, are called gongs. Perhaps you have one for swimming or spelling or attendance or dancing in a drawer somewhere.

I haven't, but there's always this:

Rank, who used this gong to introduce their films, made Brief Encounter, Black Narcissus, Great Expectations, and The Red Shoes, so it's worth looking out this particular gong if you feel in the mood for an old-fashioned thrill.

I mean, who doesn't?

Spot the Frippet: gong. This word came to English from Malay.

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