Week thirty-six: HOCKLE (probability 18309), by David Sutton

HOCKLE is an English dialect word meaning to spit. It is clearly onomatopoeic in origin; one can almost hear the phlegm bubbling in the throat. We are quite well off for words relating to expectoration, or spitting if you prefer to call a spade a spade. You can GOB, GOSS, SPAWL, SPET and (if you are a cat) FUFF, and you can also GOLLY as a verb. Furthermore, as from January 2012 you will be able to FLOB*, and to YOKER as a verb (YOKER is already valid as a noun). If your spitting has a personal target you can BESPIT or BESLOBBER the unfortunate; note that BESPIT has past tense BESPAT or BESPATE.

As far as the matter ejected goes, we have SPITTLE, SPUTUM, SALIVA and SLOBBER, to which can be added the New Zealand word GOOBY. There is also the archaic term PITUITA (or PITUITE) deriving from the Latin word for gum or slime; hence of course the PITUITARY gland.

In this context it is worth mentioning the medical term EMPTYSIS (plural EMPTYSES), though this relates particularly to the spitting of blood. And the root sial-, from Greek sialon, saliva, gives us a number of technical words relating to saliva: for example, SIALOID, resembling saliva, SIALIC, relating to saliva, and SIALAGOGIC, stimulating the flow of saliva. Next time you play JABORANDI, don't forget to mention that it has SIALAGOGIC properties; that should impress everyone except possibly Nigel Richards.

Well, that was fun. Next week, vomiting...


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