Tag Archives: invective



This week’s word is scobberlotcher, which I came across in “Wild Chamber” by Christopher Fowler. If you haven’t stumbled across his mature, and eccentric, detectives Bryant & May (yes, like the matches company) and you enjoy London history along with wit and peculiar crimes, then check them out. You’re in for a treat.

Bryant, in particular, has a fondness for obscure terms so my copy of the novel is now dotted with notes for this blog. You have been warned.

Library at Russborough House – perfect for scobberlotchering

A scobberlotcher (pronunciation here) is a harmless idle person, so it’s a useful insult for anybody who is unlikely to bother looking it up after you fling it at them. Scobberlotcher dates to the 1600s and its origins are obscure. The lotcher part may come from loiter, to hang around aimlessly. Loiter itself comes from the Dutch verb leuteren, to idle.

I’m far from scobberlotchering this week with last minute Christmas preparations afoot and a plethora of lunches to attend. It’s a shame so many social events are squeezed into December, when spreading them throughout the year might share the joy and ease the purse, but I’ll manage. I hope you find some time to scobberlotcher this week.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)



Clomantagh Castle, Kilkenny, Ireland

Clomantagh Castle, Kilkenny, Ireland

This week’s word (brought to you slightly late because I was fooling around at Clomantagh Castle last weekend) is obloquy (pronunciation here “ob-luh-qui”). It means invective, verbal abuse, vitriol, vituperation, imprecate, slur, and fulmination. It again prompts a query about why we have so many words of abuse and anger in the English language. I just don’t see the same level of creative word-invention when it comes to saying something good about someone.

But whatever the reason, we’re rather good at heaping obloquy on those we dislike and now at least you know the term for that action.

The word dates from the 15th century (much like that castle, restored by the Irish Landmark Trust) and comes from Latin/French/Middle English roots of ob meaning against and loqui – meaning to speak.

I hope you’re not the victim of obloquy this week. Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling instead.