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David Pibworth | The Blog


The Writer's Delight At Learning A New Word

It's amazing what you can miss sometimes ...



As a bit of a writer, I'm interested in words. Stands to reason really. I am therefore always amazed when I come across words that I haven't heard before. I don't mean specialist words like those used in science, or foreign words ...

Imagine my writer's delight at learning a new word today.

Imagine my writer's delight at learning a new word today.

copyright: nexusplexus / 123rf stock photo

What I mean are apparently standard, often used words that have, well, just got past me. I found one today while sitting in the emergency medical centre at Milton Keynes.

It was 'triage'. Ok, fair do's, I don't sit around in medical facilities much and was only there due to my wife having an infection needing urgent treatment, but by all accounts triage has been around for some time and I just missed it.

"Could Mr Smith come in for his triage?"

Ooh err, missus, I thought. I could just see Mr Smith romping about with Barbara Windsor and Hattie Jaques, with Kenneth Williams bursting in and saying "Oooh, Matron, really ...". But no, it means an initial medical diagnosis to determine how serious the complaint is.

The same happened to me with the word 'ramekin'. Sometime after I got married my wife said "Can you get out the ramekins please?" My natural answer was "What, with all the family here?" but it turns out they are small ceramic dishes to put individual puddings into.

There must be thousands of words that I haven't heard, but I ought to know, and I am now quite pleased when I learn them, but it's one of those things you can't really study. How do you find words that you haven't heard of? You just have to add them to your vocabulary as and when they crop up.

My ambition, such as it is, is now to invent a word and get it into the Oxford dictionary. I was once phoned up by the Guardian to find out if the word 'codswallop' had been invented by Ray Galton and Alan Simpson, who's scripts of Steptoe & Son and Tony Hancock I represent.

I asked Alan if this was so, as it had come up in an early episode of Hancocks Half Hour, when Tony had said "What a load of codswallop" but Alan told me that his Uncle had used the word and used to say "come here young codswallop" and they (Ray and Alan) had thought it a good word to use in place of a swear word. He also said that the history of the word went back much further.

Comedy writers often used certain words in place of swear words, to get around the censors at the time, such as Dick Clement and Ian La Frenais's use of 'naff off' and 'nurk' in Porridge.

Actually, I still think that the word that makes me laugh the most in swearing is when someone calls someone else a 'bleeder' as it's just so offensive somehow and old man Steptoe made good use of it.

Anyway, I shall strive to come up with a new word to add to the English dictionary. I don't quite know where to start but as I'm writing a sitcom at present, I'll perhaps try to edge it into that.

"I'll let you know."

Oh, and incidentally, my wife had her triage and the MK medical centre were excellent and sorted it all out very swiftly. There is probably a word for that which hasn't been invented yet.

Until next time ...


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More about David Pibworth ...

David is the owner of David Pibworth Productions (DPP) which provide corporate entertainment and also actors for corporate training and development.

Having worked in the Light Entertainment field for many years and produced shows for Al Murray & Joe Pasquale amongst others, David is in a position to advise on well-known comedy and musical acts. DPP also represent Ray Galton and Alan Simpson's scripts which include Hancock's Half Hour and Steptoe and Son.

He is the director of MK Theatre of Comedy who are very well known locally for their stage adaptations of classic comedy scripts such as Fawlty Towers, The Vicar of Dibley, Allo Allo and many others.

He is a long-standing member of Equity and the Directors Guild of Great Britain and has acted in, and directed, many productions over the years, mainly in Light Entertainment, but with occasional forays into Shakespeare etc. Every Christmas he is contracted as an Ugly Sister in Cinderella, currently with 'That's Entertainment' who also use him as a director.

He teaches eccentric magic for The Pauline Quirke Academy and MKTOC also run a youth drama school in Olney from the DPP offices.

David maintains his busy lifestyle is a surefire way to avoid being on any committees. He is married to Julie, and they have one daughter, Esther and live in Clifton Reynes, surrounded by dogs, cats and horses. They live so close to the church that David has instructed his daughter - when he dies and not before - to fire him over the wall from a circus cannon.