Friday, September 24, 2010


Frabjous \FRAB-juhs\ , adjective:1. Wonderful, elegant, superb, or delicious

According to the Oxford English Dictionary:
A nonsense-word invented by 'Lewis Carroll' (C.L. Dodgson), [apparently] intended to suggest 'fair' and 'joyous'; used vaguely by others in various contextual senses. Hence 'frabjously', adv. (Oxford English Dictionary)

Upon discovering the etymology of this word, I was annoyed. Sure it's a word and sure the OED has attributions for it's use through 1970, but as a 'word of the day' it's irritating. I suspect that any attempt to actually use this word will require an assumed common knowledge of Jabberwocky, which is not a fair assumption. Plus, if you do use this word and are questioned on it's meaning, you sound like a literary snob.
Annoyance aside, I did click around a bit to see if there are any contemporary, non-Lewis Carroll-related usages and found a blog that uses it, plus two instances where the name 'Frabjous' has been applied. The first is a beautiful and mathematical sculpture made out of 30 identical s-shaped pieces. This thing is absolutely gorgeous and deserving of a whimsical name, so a word out of Lewis Carroll's head seems apropos. The second is a category of yarn sold on an online fiber shop. The yarns are certainly bright, colorful, and interesting, so again, a whimsical name works.

*Today's word and the first definition were both taken from's 'Word of the Day' for Friday, September 24

1 comment:

  1. Came across this blog and it's so strange, I used the same template in blogspot to start a blog on a similar theme (words) in July 2010 (though I did not continue blogging)
    And I am a linguist too :)