Oddly Enough - Got something unusual to say? Spread the word.

5th December 2008 at 00:00

Ever had a snotfair? Do your pupils often seem confuzzled? Then researchers for The English Project want to hear from you.

The education charity put out a call on BBC Radio 4 this summer for home-coined words used among friendship groups and families, and was quickly deluged with examples of such "kitchen table lingo".

Now they hope to do the same with words that have emerged from school staffrooms and playgrounds.

Bill Lucas, professor of learning at Winchester University and a trustee of the project, said: "We've had a trickle of words from teachers, but education seems an incredibly fecund area, so we expect there are many more.

"We know that some English teachers in Hampshire are already using the words we've found as the basis for discussions in lessons."

Among the teachers who contributed to the first collection of words was Conor Meadows of York House School in Rickmansworth, Hertfordshire. He said that Year 7 boys used the adjective "confuzzled", combining confused and puzzled (as in, "I am really confuzzled about personalised learning").

More than 400 such words have been collected in the newly published book Kitchen Table Lingo. And another book of staffroom and playground lingo may be published if enough examples emerge.

But Professor Lucas emphasises that the aim of the scheme is not to create a novelty book of amusing words or slang. Instead he regards it as an investigation into "societal history" that can help capture the way words develop and evolve.

For example, the group received dozens of coined words for the gadget use to turn on the television, including "bimmer", "blapper", "dibber", "doflicka, "hoofer-doofer" and "woojit". This appears to reflect a lack of satisfaction with the phrase "remote control".

"It's quite Darwinian really," Professor Lucas said.

Eventually, he hopes to create a visitor attraction in Winchester based around the English language.

A strict set of rules govern which words qualify for the project. The word must not appear in authoritative dictionaries; it must be used by at least three people; it must have been in use for more than a month; it must not have been invented simply to get into the book; and it must not be a brand name.

To submit playground or staffroom lingo, click on the special sections on the group's website.



Snotfair - noun; an interview with a pupil who is unhappy with a grade or mark.

Visipants - noun; underwear deliberately on display due to low-cut trousers (especially by teenagers).

Confuzzled - adjective; confused and puzzled.

Sloindez - noun; a break from study, spent indulging in football on a PlayStation.

Embuggerance - noun; an exasperating problem that hinders progress.

Rous - adjective; disastrous ("Those Sats this year were rous").


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar, Buyagift.com, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today