A quockerwodger

I came across the wonderful word quockerwodger on the BBC Radio 4 programme Wordaholics. Surprisingly it doesn’t appear in the OED, but on World Wide Words it is defined as “a wooden toy figure which jerks its limbs about when pulled by a string”, and also a politician whose strings are pulled by someone else.

It’s origin is uncertain and it doesn’t appear to be related to the dialect words quocken (to vomit/choke), or quocker (a man who goes harvesting at some distance from home).

This entry was posted in English, Etymology, Language.

4 Responses to Quockerwodger

  1. Charlie says:

    My wild guess is that it might be related to quake but this only goes to show I have no idea.

    The German Hampelmann (from hampeln “jump about; fidget”) is used in very much the same way and may refer to toys or to “human puppets.”

  2. Rauli says:

    That word sounds nice and funny.

    In Finnish, they are called “sätkynukke” (fidgeting puppet), or “marionetti” (marionette). Both can be used in the figurative sense as well.

  3. kb says:

    An interesting example of imitative language: when I was a toddler, I always called vomiting “gwocking up” and it got to where my whole family called it that. Strange that there was actually such a similar word for it…

  4. TJ says:

    there is a probability that the name is derived from (just a guess) from one of the makes of such toy – like dressed as farmer or something and hence the term quocker.
    Much in same way how we call the “tissues” as kleenex (or is it klinix?) because of the famous brand name mainly. Here, many items in the market are named after their brands not for their actual work and purpose.