Wednesday, May 05, 2004
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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