Thursday, December 21, 2006

Rat Words

Maddy is reading "The Stainless Steel Rat Gets Drafted" by Harry Harrison. It's one of my old paperbacks and it's still funny 20 years after it was written. She just came across a few unfamiliar words and asked me what they meant.

That's "residual" it means what is left over.

Not a real word.
Are you sure it's not a real word?
We went back and forth, she showed it to me in print.
It's a word that he made up, and from the context it means that he ate something.
But it says, "I didn't eat it so much as I insufflated it."
After that it says that he went back for more. The author could have said that he "inhaled it," or "ate it without tasting it," but he preferred to make up his own word.

and finally there was
Do you mean "cabal?"
She spelled it for me.
Oh, that's a cuss word that he made up.
What does it mean?

She was surprised at the last one, and also that I thought it should be pronounced with a long "A." Cagal," rhymes with "bagel."

Edit: INSUFFLATE is a real word! Darn you internet. But CAGAL is not. Not yet that is.


Anonymous said...

From :: :: (a semi official fansite)

What does the word "Cagal" mean?

Amazingly, this is among the most commonly-asked questions we receive! Harry says: "Cagal is the Cornish word for cowshit. Though Cornish is a dead language you still hear the word there."

Prisstopolis said...

Welcome anonymous rat fan!
That's a very nice site.

I think Harry's word-origin story includes a grain of cagal.