Sunday, 17 January 2010

call my bluff

I presume erudition in my readers, but I’m going to be even more presumptuous and put that erudition to the test. For the benefit of non-British readers, Call My Bluff was a panel game that ran on BBC2 from 1965 to 1988 and on BBC1 from 1996 to 2005. It consisted of two teams of three taking turns to define a word provided by the game’s chairman. Each team had a permanent captain who was a noted wordsmith and two celebrity guests who had no previously known skills in that department. According to a prearranged system, one member of the defining team was given a card on which the real definition was printed, while the other two members were given cards bearing the single word ‘bluff’. The job of the opposing team was to identify which of the three definitions presented was the correct one. A small fraction of the words used came from the two-volume Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, but most were from the twenty-volume dictionary, the one that you would need a large wheelbarrow to transport from one place to another. However, unlike in Call My Bluff, I’m not going to provide competing definitions; I will merely ask the following questions to test your knowledge of English:
1. What would you be doing if you were faccing?
2. If you were to scunify something, what would you be doing?
3. What is a thrag?
4. If someone is behaving sedly, what are they doing?
5. What is a siblet?
Now, be honest, how many of the above words did you define correctly? Be even more honest: how many of you spotted that these are not words at all, or if they are words, they are words that you would not come across in any dictionary. I discovered them in the process of commenting on other people’s blogs; they are examples of the sequence of letters that you are required to type in order to verify that you are not some spam-generating automaton. Most of these are actually pronounceable, but most are also readily identifiable for what they are. The ones that I selected do have a modicum of credibility though: ‘scunify’ and ‘faccing’ have recognizable suffixes; ‘siblet’ is not so far removed from ‘tablet’ and ‘goblet’; ‘thrag’ has a Saxon feel about it; and ‘sedly’ might just be some obscure adverb. However, they are all meaningless, although this shouldn’t be taken to imply that they cannot be given meanings.

This is where you, the reader, come in. Not every action, process, object or concept has its own word, so can you identify a vacant niche where one of the five ‘words’ could usefully be parked? In other words, can you provide a suitable definition, one that you would have been proud to think up on the spur of the moment had you been a panellist on Call My Bluff?


  1. I remmeber Call My Bluff! I used to enjoy that show. I'm ever so glad those were not real words as I sat there thinking what an eejit I was not knowing any of them lol.

  2. Not a clue. I think my brother might call me a siblet because I am only his sister part of the time...when I don't embarass him and he LETs me be called his sister. A thrag is what I am washing dishes with right now and need to throw it away...THread of a RAG. I think I will stick with clueless. LOL

  3. Faccing; Tweet from Britney Spears " Yo, today, like when I put my pants on, like they were bakwerds or sumthn', cus they was like, faccing the wrong way!"

    Scunify; To scrutinize before "cleaning house" in order to unify. " The Obama administration scrunified Washington shortly after taking office."

    Thrag; 1. A jaded and emotionally thrashed old woman / hag; 2. A drag queen that has been thoroughly pummeled.

    Sedly; The word "sadly" pronounced by a Brit with a head cold.

    Siblet; is a desiccant made of porous and amorphous material.

  4. Thanks for the fun read. This reminded me of something that was popular in the US in the 80's as well. A gentleman/comedian - Rich Hall (I hope I got that correct) created what were called "Sniglets". These were words created where there was a void to explain things that currently had no words to describe them. I cannot recall many off the top of my head, except I wanted to always submit one called "Pottynoia" - def. - "The feeling you get that someone is going to walk into your stall in a public restroom interrupting you in the middle of your business".
    Thnaks for having fun with the passwords!

  5. I like Jessica's answers...LOL! As for me playing the game....all I hear is crickets. Better not quit my day job.

  6. I am entirely in love with this post.
    I'll be thinking up definitions for those words for days now, laughing to myself as I go along.

    Reminds me of The Meaning of Liff.

    Anyone who has not heard of it should read it right this minute.

    Good call, my friend.

  7. I watched the old thrag who came hobbling by,
    Sedly she wept with a sneeze, snort and cry;
    Her siblet was dangling, so wretched and stark,
    Unbearably unscunified, like moth-bitten bark.

    "How do you, my lady? The evening is passing.
    Where will you, my lady, amid the cruel faccing?"
    "You flout!" She retorted. "I'm to kine with a prince,
    Whose pate is more heapful than anyone's since!"

    Then offward she sauntered, her siblet still dangling,
    While with gravel its tiplet was zestily wrangling.
    And that's all I heard of the thrag and her siblet.
    Of the prince? All they found was a half-eaten giblet.

    Some people are poets and others are not,
    And some should be lauded and most others shot;
    But to find this poem's meaning, don't scrudify too close,
    Or a mangerous siblet might bight off your nose!

  8. Faccing - To weave baskets or other items from an especially tough form of straw found only in the Welsh and Scottish Highlands.
    Scunify - To clean using a corrosive liquid, often sulphuric acid.
    Thrag - Spinster over the age of 65 with at least 3 feline companions.
    Sedly - Slow but steady, to move sedly is to move at a similar pace to a glacier, and to be equally inexorable.
    Siblet - Small pieces of skin that are often bitten off by the moer zealous nail-biters.

    Interesting read :). I wish I had seen this programme :/.
    I also wrote about words here:

  9. Loving EY's definitions, esp. of Thrag!

    Faccing |ˈfeɪsɪŋ|
    verb [ trans. ]

    The act of licking the excess cocaine from the edge of one's credit card after the process of cutting-up and creating lines is complete.


    Person 1) "Dem babylons be after me bamba clat ganja!"

    Person 2) "Shiiit! Lemme just Facce da charlie off me plastic b'for dey gets ere star."

  10. Faccing a document after xeroccing it?

  11. If I was sedly faccing a siblet in order to scunify his thrag I would assume I had waaaay too much to drink and spellcheck wasn't working.

  12. All five in one sentence Crazy Fox. I’m impressed.

  13. I'm impressed you are impressed! They just seem to fall in place.

  14. I thought my reasons for fearing deep water were, my brownie scout leader held my head under water too long trying to overcome my fears, then I was carried out in the Gulf when I was 16 and it took a couple hours for the coast guard to find me on my inner tube...and my brother and his friends forced me off the diving board at our company reservoir thinking I might "magically" learn how to swim. Nope...landed right on top a damn water mocassin. I'm not a great swimmer now either but I do love to be in the water in spite of all the trauma.


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