Top Ten Tuesday: Weird and Wonderful Words

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme created by The Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana at That Artsy Reader Girl. For the rules see her blog.

The topic this week is: Favorite Words (This isn’t so much bookish, but I thought it would be fun to share words we love! These could be words that are fun to say, sound funny, mean something great, or make you smile when you read/hear them.)

I’m using Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll as my source of fun words – more than ten. The illustrations are all from my old paperback copy of the book.

I think his poem Jabberwocky in Through the Looking Glass is just perfect for my TTT post this week, full of weird and wonderful words.

illustration by John Tenniel

This was a great favourite of mine as a child and I still love the poem, Jabberwocky which begins:

Twas brillig and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe;
All mimsy were the borogroves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jujub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch.

I had no idea what the words meant but I loved the sound of them and learned them off by heart. Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice that ‘brillig’ means ‘4 o’clock’, ‘slithy’ means ‘lithe and slimy’ and ‘toves’ are something like badgers  and lizards and corkscrews, to ‘gyre and gimble’ means to go round and round like a gyroscope and make holes like a gimlet and the ‘wabe’ is a grass-plot around a sundial – as shown in this illustration also  by John Tenniel:

In The Hunting of the Snark the Jujub bird is described in much greater depth than in Jabberwocky. It is found in a narrow, dark, depressing and isolated valley. Its voice when heard is described as a scream, shrill and high, like a pencil squeaking on a slate, and significantly it scares those who hear it. Frumious Carroll claimed, means a combination of fuming and furious and a bandersnatch is also described in Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, as a creature with a long neck and snapping jaws, and both works describe it as ferocious and extraordinarily fast. 

13 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Weird and Wonderful Words

  1. Great choice! The wonderful thing about Carroll’s poems is that even though you don’t understand the individual words, somehow it still all paints a really clear picture in your head. I love this one too, possibly because my older sister used to recite it as if it was a kind of horror story to scare us younger ones!

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  2. I’m not a huge fan of Lewis Carroll, but I love the words he coined in Jabberwocky. I do love that poem. (It’s the only thing I really do of his.) My favorite word of his is chortle. It’s so descriptive and really encompasses its meaning. 😀 Great list!

    My TTT


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