Tag Archives: spoofing



This week’s word is snoofing, a word I found on a train in 2017.

I was about to say I couldn’t recall the last time I was on a train, but I can. It was six months ago. I used to commute daily by train and as offspring of non-driving, city-living parents I grew up exploring my city via public transport, but now it’s a rare pleasure for me to travel via train, nearly always for meeting friends or enjoying city pursuits like theatre, museums, etc. With such events currently limited I have no idea when I will next take the train and today I’m missing that experience. Where better to enjoy the passing view, eavesdrop for dialogue inspiration, or to read my book?

Snoofing is a waste of such luxuries in my opinion. Snoofing is an invented word (spotted on a fun poster on an Irish Rail train in 2017) combining spoofing (faking, coined in the late 1800s) and snoozing to give us a term for pretending to be asleep in order to avoid conversation or being obliged to give up your seat to somebody more worthy on public transport. The classic pose is that of a cowboy with his stetson pulled down over his eyes, but appearing to be visually glued to your telephone screen is a more common one in my experience. I commuted through both of my pregnancies and sadly snoofing was widespread. I sat on the floor when I had to, but getting up again when you’re carrying a baby-bump is tricky.

If you spot somebody snoofing the best approach is direct. A polite interruption and explanation of your need for a seat usually shames them into yielding their position, if you can be brave enough to take this path.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,

Grace (@Wordfoolery)

Snoofing my way though Twixtmas

No snow this year for Christmas - this snowlady is from 2013

No snow this year for Christmas – this snowlady is from 2013


This week’s word is a suggestion from my sister who spotted it, appropriately enough, on a train. Snoofing is a verb meaning to feign a dormant state in order to avoid interaction with other passengers on public transport, especially if that means relinquishing your seat to someone in need.

Snoofing is a recently invented word whose origin appears to be from spoofing (pretending) and snooze. It doesn’t appear in any of the mainstream dictionaries but as a former train commuter (who only rarely had a seat during her pregnancies) I can assure readers that snoofing is a real and deserves a verb, if only so we can shame those who engage in it.

Spoof (a hoax, trick or deception) has a longer history. It comes from spoof in 1884, a card game involving trickery, bluffing, and nonsense invented by British comedian and music hall entertainer Arthur Roberts (1852-1933). The idea of a spoof as being a skit or parody of a play or movie entered English around 1914. Arthur started his career busking in London’ Covent Garden and once caused a supper room to lose its license due to performing one of his more saucy songs there.

There is also a coin game called spoof and a world championship. Details and rules of play are here.

I haven’t been able to find the rules of spoof as invented by Arthur Roberts because it would be a fun game to play during twixtmas – the days between St. Stephen’s Day and New Year’s Eve. Instead I shall have to deploy my snoofing techniques to avoid washing the dishes.

Until next time happy reading, writing, and wordfooling,