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Sep 3, 2019
This week’s theme
Coined words

This week’s words
unbirthday
runcible
chirality
esemplastic
gonzo

runcible
Illustration: Julie

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A.Word.A.Day
with Anu Garg

runcible

PRONUNCIATION:
(RUHN-suh-buhl)

MEANING:
noun: A utensil that is a combination of a fork and spoon. Also known as a spork.
adjective: Shaped like a combination fork and spoon.

ETYMOLOGY:
Coined as a nonsense word by the poet Edward Lear (1812-1888) in 1871.

NOTES:
A runcible or spork is the love child of a spoon + fork, but that’s not what the word meant in the beginning. Edward Lear coined the word in the poem “The Owl and the Pussycat”:
They dined on mince, and slices of quince
Which they ate with a runcible spoon
What runcible meant was left to the imagination of the reader. Lear later used the same word to describe other things: cat, hat, goose, and wall. Eventually, the word took the sense of a spoon that can do the job of both a fork and a spoon.

If a spoon and a fork mate to give birth to a runcible or spork, what happens when other pieces of cutlery get together? Luis Giles has done the analysis.

USAGE:
“Hello, we said, to the beautiful dark starlit bar and the luxury therein: the runcible spoons with their slippery cargo: the snarled silk of tinned bean sprout, the wrinkled flame of the dried lily.”
Lynn Emanuel; The Dig and Hotel Fiesta; University of Illinois Press; 1994.

See more usage examples of runcible in Vocabulary.com’s dictionary.

A THOUGHT FOR TODAY:
Form follows function. -Louis Sullivan, architect (3 Sep 1856-1924)

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