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In a word: rannygazoo

Each week The Sun's John McIntyre presents a relatively obscure but evocative word with which you may not be familiar, another brick to add to the wall of your working vocabulary. This week's word:

RANNYGAZOO

Either you are charmed by P.G.Wodehouse's parallel universe of Edwardian flippancy or you are not, and if you are not, this is the place to step off.

Rannygazoo, (pronounced ran-ee-ga-ZOO) it turns out, is not a piece of Edwardian slang, but a solid Americanism from the late nineteenth century that Wodehouse gleefully lifted, as Michael Quinion explored at World Wide Words. It means, Mr. Quinion explains, "a deceptive story or scheme, pranks, tricks or other irritating or foolish carryings-on," the last sense being utterly Wodehousian.

Wodehouse is credited with being the first to use this particular form of the word in print, in Bill the Conqueror in 1924: "I’ll hang around for a while just in case friend Pilbeam starts any rannygazoo."

If you work with others in an office, you will probably discover multiple occasions to employ it in the course of the workday.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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