wordly obsessions

I’ve been mildly preoccupied of late with words that are missing from the English language, also some that have morphed over time. I have no interest in writing about this. Just thought I’d mention it. And then offer, apropos of my current mood, an excerpt from what I believe to be one of the greatest sources of words that should be real… the extraordinary and tiny Meaning of Liff, where all the words not only make perfect sense and you wonder just how you’ve managed without them… but are the real names of real places.

Here follows the always useful ‘Corrie’ series:


The moment at which two people, approaching from opposite ends of a long passageway, recognize each other and immediately pretend they haven’t. This is to avoid the ghastly embarrassment of having to continue recognising each other the whole length of the corridor.


To avert the horrors of corrievorrie, corriecravie is usually employed. This is the cowardly but highly skilled process by which both protagonists continue to approach while keeping up the pretence that they haven’t noticed each other–by staring furiously at their feet, grimacing into a notebook, or studying the walls closely as if in a mood of deep irritation.


The crucial moment of false recognition in a long passageway encounter. Though both people are perfectly well aware that the other is approaching, they must eventually pretend sudden recognition. They now look up with a glassy smile, as if having spotted each other for the first time, (and are particularly delighted to have done so) shouting out ‘Haaaaalllllooo!’ as if to say ‘Good grief!! You!! Here!! Of all people! Well I never. Coo. Stamp me vitals, etc.’


The dreadful sinking sensation in a long passageway encounter when both protagonists immediately realize they have plumped for the corriedoo much too early as they are still a good thirty yards apart. They were embarrassed by the pretence of corriecravie and decided to make use of the corriedoo because they felt silly. This was a mistake as corrievorrie will make them seem far sillier.


Corridor etiquette demands that once a corriedoo has been declared, corrievorrie must be employed. Both protagonists must now embellish their approach with an embarrassing combination of waving, grinning, making idiot faces, doing pirate impressions, and waggling the head from side to side while holding the other person’s eyes as the smile drips off their face, until, with great relief, they pass each other.


Word describing the kind of person who can make a complete mess of a simple job like walking down a corridor.

Image courtesy of WikiCommons
Image courtesy of WikiCommons


10 thoughts on “wordly obsessions

    1. Just looked up ‘spoonerisms’. Well beyond me. I only write what I know… (;
      But I’d love your take!
      Do I see a new thread developing??

  1. Brilliant, Carin. You had me laughing out loud. I especially like the last one.

    Re spoonerisms, one of my favourites comes from my sister-in-law, a psychiatrist who has worked so long in Montreal, in French, that she sometimes muddles English. She once told a story about one person “lamblasting” another.

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