Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Learning | L is for Lollygag

Photo courtesy of Randy Son of Robert's photostream on
A lollygagging dog.
Photo courtesy of Randy Son of Robert's
photostream on
Some rights reserved.
Every once in a while, I encounter a book that seems to have been written by a kindred soul (or, one might say, a fellow word nerd.)

L is for Lollygag: Quirky Words for a Clever Tongue is such a book.  I remember making lists of words when I was a kid. Some words were cool, some were interesting, and some were hilarious, like lollygag. This book has so many of those words, that I remember putting on those lists, I almost wondered if the authors stumbled across my childhood scrawls. Nah, that couldn't be the case, because my handwriting was downright illegible.  But only a kindred spirit would include words like fiddlesticks, rigamarole, and kit and caboodle for consideration.

As if the words and definitions were not delightful enough, the editors included droll, retro illustrations for the words and phrases (think about those animated interludes on Monty Python's Flying Circus--that's the idea!) 

I checked L is for Lollygag out in November, and I've renewed it a few times already.  I'm enjoying it so much, I know I'll be checking it out again someday, if only to use it as a list to inspire me to look up etymologies, or word origins.

I'll only bore you with one etymology today, from the title: lollygag is an interesting word for those looking up word histories, mainly because we aren't sure what it originally meant.  It did not appear in print until 1868; it seems to have something to do with tongues (lolly is an English word for tongue.)  

As the Wordphiliac entry for lollygag pointed out, it no doubt is somehow related to the expression loll, to have one's tongue hanging out. Of course, gag is a word we associate with mouths, too; think of something to put into somebody's mouth to stop them from talking.  But tongue-gagging is not how we use the word these days; to lollygag is to dawdle or waste time.


  1. The world lollygag is so... CUTE!! The picture of the dog really gives me an adorable visual to help me remember the definition of the word. :D