Lexikin and Familial Patois: A Glossary

This week, I’ve been thinking about familial patois (come on, we all indulge in it from time-to-time – don’t pretend you don’t) and how it is BASICALLY AMAZING???

We have a few linguistic quirks in the Guest family; the most notable of which is adding “-un” or “-una” as an affectionate diminutive suffix. It essentially plays the same role as “-chan” does in Japanese, or “-chen” in German. So I’m Natun or Natuna, for example. A fairly common exchange around the Guesthouse is “Wuvuna?” (Do you love me?) “Wuvun!” (I love you).


We also use it ironically for inanimate objects that we’re particularly pleased about (“I wuvun my chair! CHAIRUNA.” “Yay, mushrooms for tea. MUSHROOMUNA!!!”)

I mentioned that -una was an affectionate diminutive suffix to my sister one time, and this happened:

Bemble: “Oh my god, you have actually analysed the grammar of our family talk.”
Me: “I prefer the term ‘familial patois’.”
Bemble: “Oh my god.”

We are very different people.


Anyway, I thought it was likely that most families have a few examples of their own; it’s nigh impossible to spend that amount of time together and not come out of it with a shared lexicon and a shared linguistic mythology. So I took to Twitter to yoink some examples from other people. I love me a spot of crowdsourcing!

A lot of the examples I got were blatant kidiolect; “glubs” for gloves, for example, and “piccali” for broccoli. A few of them I suspect are regional rather than familial (though, you could argue, they’re the same thing on different scales). I’ve omitted all the entries I got that were words for the TV remote, because as a phenomenon it’s not only overdone but also dull as ditchwater.

What follows is a glossary of familial words and phrases, which shows – I think – that linguistic creativity is not only alive and well, but is glowingly so. Gloriously so. Glossily so. And that is exactly why a prescriptive approach to language is never going to be a thing that is good or right or useful. It is always going to be a thing that is dull and berserk. Or, if you will, a doobrey for pie-cans that is total parny and bunge.


amples n. apples (@annscott23)
belsham burp .n a particularly large belch (@unfortunatalie)
blump n. small, round, cute object Obs. (@unfortunatalie)
bobies n. bed (@hamhamparty)
boom-de-ay n. a certain shape; particularly of haircuts (@unfortunatalie)
bonch n. walk [pertaining only to dogs] (@stujs)
bonch adj. good, exclamation of approval (@escalatorkid)
bonch la ronch adj. intensifier, very good (@escalatorkid)
brod n. special bread (@woods_f1)
bunge n. poo (@jamesdeeming)
crozzled adj. crispy [of bacon] (@linzibean)
cumber n. cucumber (@unfortunatalie)
curly-wurly n. any throat sound that isn’t a burp (@unfortunatalie)
derlin adj. cute, gauche, bathetic (@sourdust)
dade n. a dummy/pacifier (@paulkerton)
dan n. handkerchief (@nickholden32)
drobba¹ contraction of a drop of (@rosieseeley87)
drobba² n. tea (@rosieseeley87)
dogpaw n. someone who rips off someone else’s idea (@tarkadaal)
doobrey n. an unknown object (@brainmage)
doofer-dangler n. see doobrey (@jenthomasjourno)
eebie-jeebies or eeby-jeebies n. restless leg syndrome (@unfortunatalie)
fish-hook n. idiot (@bexter2001)
frankies pl. n. vegetarian sausages (@fireholly99)
ganzee n. long-sleeved garment (@fakeitthrough)
glubs pl. n gloves (@nickholden32)
gubbies n. see glubs (@hamhamparty)
-ibus suf. affectionate diminutive (@eph_bee)
iwihap n. /aj’wi’hæp/ someone whose bum is visible over their trousers (@sonofajoiner)
jimbles n. pyjamas (@penguingalaxy)
joam n. door (@nilogic)
-ky  suf. see -ibus (@godigumdrop)
ligger n. someone who stays in bed (@nilogic)
nanoo n. see fish-hook (@bexter2001)
niddy-noddy n. 1 an eskimo kiss 2 the light that a watch reflects onto the ceiling (@lisagreener)
nonny n. a boiled egg (@pennyb)
ommocking n. when a dog is sitting on you and squirms (@a_y_alex)
ookling n. see ommocking  (@a_y_alex)
paramecium n. parmesan (@crazybrave)
parny n. epic failure (@escalatorkid)
parny-par n. an epic fall [from a height] (@escalatorkid)
piccali n. broccoli (@jenthomasjourno)
pie-can n. see fish-hook (@bexter2001)
pimplemoosh n. the lump on the end of your elbow (@unfortunatalie)
plymouth n. urethra (@fireholly99)
pockies pl. n. see glubs (@sciencerulesok)
pogle n. the area behind your knee (@gingerpinhead)
pomlets n. polo mints (@sciencerulesok)
ponkstar n. fool, idiot, one who is cavalier (@escalatorkid)
porties pl. n. strawberries (@jenthomasjourno)
posh¹ n. squeeze [of a teabag] (@nilogic)
posh² v. squeeze [of a teabag] (@nilogic)
punker n. a marrow (@hamhamparty)
purple lentils n. feigned illness (@nilogic)
shardite? interj. how are you? (@stujs)
shard interj. i’m alright (@stujs)
skissors n. scissors (@nickholden32)
skrawky adj. streaky [of a window] (@linzibean)
slounders pl. n. the bits in orange juice (@fireholly99)
soz n. term of endearment (@bexter2001)
spadge n. term of endearment [for old men & cats] (@walkyouhome)
squinklet n. cat (@penguingalaxy)
squittles pl. n. small offcuts of paper (@maxtundra)
sudaddy n. dad’s study (@rachelpearce)
sumummy n. mum’s study (@rachelpearce)
-sy suf. see -ibus (@godigumdrop)
threeforks n. a fork with three tithes (@luratea)
tomsk adj. fit/healthy (@escalatorkid)
trousie n. trousers (@penguingalaxy)
turkeley n. turquoise, teal (@seaninbath)
ub-dubs n. creeping sense of anxiety (@nikki_l_scott)
umberginkum n. umbrella (@tinymattresses)
-un suf. see -ibus (@unfortunatalie)
-una suf. see -ibus (@unfortunatalie)
underconstumble v. understand (@cjjc)
wear v. to put on [a tv show] (@tannice_)
whirly-whirly n. rotary dryer (@tannice_)
wuvun, wuvuna n. see soz (@unfortunatalie)
yessaforks n. a fork with four tithes (@luratea)
yitten v. to frighten yittened v. yittening adj. (@goodbyeandgo)


5 thoughts on “Lexikin and Familial Patois: A Glossary

  1. “ganzee” is actually the Irish word for a jumper. It’s spelt geansaí in Irish, though…but it’s pronounced the same.

  2. Awesome!! Lexikin really does describe it, although i’m a little sad as i thought we were the only family that did it 😦
    However we go for entire actions as well, e.g. Paws Up ? (Put your hands up = do you love me?), Blanket Stitch!!! (turn your fingers over like a blanket stitch teddy bear= yes i do!!)

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