Wednesday, May 05, 2004

The Dreaded Lurgy! 

Being an almost lifelong Goon Show fan (my friends say they can really tell, those who've heard of them), the word 'lurgy' has always had a prominent place in my vocabulary. But I hadn't imagined the word would actually have made it to the big time until tonight. From the OED:

Usu. in phr. the dreaded lurgy [bold in OED too]. A fictitious, highly infectious disease invented (?) and made a byword by the Radio Goons (GOON 4).
For the possibility that the word is not invented, cf. fever-lurgy, dial. var. of FEVER-LURDEN, and E.D.D. s.v. lurgies, lurgy adj. & n.

1954 Radio Times 9 Nov. 20/3 The Goon Show... Poor Arnold Fringe is suddenly stricken with the Dreaded Lurgi... Within a few days Lurgi has claimed nine thousand victims. 1969 I. & P. OPIE Children's Games ii. 75 (heading) The dreaded lurgy. 1971 It 15-29 July 5/3 The youth of Australia have been saved once more from the dreaded lurgy, marijuana. 1974 H. MACINNES Climb to Lost World ix. 149, I was beginning to feel weak and knew that I had caught the dreaded swamp lurgy.

In less common usage, I'd guess from the stares I get when using them, are the phrases: 'He's fallen in the water!', 'What time is it Eccles?' and 'Ying Tong Iddle I Po!'

But I'm sure their time will come...

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