If someone accused you of scurryfunging, would you have any idea what they were talking about?
Scurryfunge is apparently an American dialect word meaning cleaning and tidying your house frantically before visitors arrive. That is according to the podcast Something Rhymes with Purple, which I discovered today. It’s a podcast about words and language by Gyles Brandreth and Susie Dent.
According to Definition Of, scurryfunge is an Old English word meaning “to rush around cleaning when company is on their way over”.
According to the Urban Dictionary, scurryfunge means “A hasty tidying of the house between the time you see a neighbor and the time he/she knocks on the door”, and comes from John Gould’s Maine Lingo: Boiled Owls, Billdads, and Wazzats, 1975.
According to Haggard Hawks, scurryfunge means “to hastily tidy a house”. It first appeared in written English in the late 18th century, and originally meant to beat or lash, and later to rub or scrub clean. By the early 20th century it was only used in a few regional dialects, and the meaning had changed a bit.
According to Wordfoolery, back in the 19th century scurryfunge meant “to scour for marine curiosities”, and is still used in Newfoundland.
According to Dictionary of Newfoundland English, scurryfunge means “to lash tightly; to do anything briskly; to work or walk hurriedly; to scrounge, cadge or wheedle; to clean thoroughly, scour; to scold, reprove”.
So now we know what it means, do you scurryfunge?
I do sometimes when I’m expecting visitors, but my house is usually reasonably tidy. Or at least any mess is confined to certain areas.
Are there similar words in other languages?