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18 January 2010

Monday's Word - Griffonage

I use a computer to write (not just novels and short stories, but everything from Christmas card lists to Shopping Lists! Why? Because dear friends, I fear my writing has, over the years, degenerated into a state that can only be described as 'griffonage',

Griffonage? I hear you ask, what in tarnation is that?

Well, according to Michael Quinion, in his 'Worldwide Words'
"To someone coming unawares upon this word, it might seem to have a connection to that fabulous beast called the griffin or gryphon, the one with the head and wings of an eagle and the body of a lion. Or might it perhaps refer to the vulture with that cognomen or the breed of dog similarly named, both of which derive from an older English spelling of "griffin"? Alas, no. It's more prosaic than that.

"Readers with knowledge of French will be at an advantage, since the word appears in that language as a noun formed from the verb "griffoner", to scribble or scrawl. A "griffonage" is therefore an illegible scrawl, so it would make a usefully obscure description of your physician's next prescription."

(Or my own attempts to write a first draft by hand!)

*World Wide Words is copyright (c) Michael Quinion 2010. All rights reserved. The Words Web site is at http://www.worldwidewords.org/