Remember Sniglets? List Of Words That Should Have Been In The Dictionary

Culture | June 10, 2020

Rich Hall. (Photo by Walt Disney Television via Getty Images Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television via Getty Images)

Comedian Rich Hall gave us the "sniglet" -- defined as (remember?) "any word that doesn't appear in the dictionary, but should." Seeking to name the nameless things and behaviors we witness every day, Hall created a cottage industry that began with a segment on HBO's ahead-of-its-time show Not Necessarily The News and grew into a series of books and other gift items. Rich Hall did other stuff -- he was on the popular comedy show Fridays, and later a cast member of Saturday ight Live -- but Sniglets like "strumble," "bozone," "lactomangulation," "snorfing," "snackmosphere," and "profanitype" are his claim to fame.

That bar separating grocery orders is a spratchett. Source: (wikipedia)

The English language has more than 170,000 words that are in current use, and the second edition of the Oxford English dictionary lists more that 600,000 word forms, although not all of them are currently used. Somehow though, all of these words are not enough. Gelett Burgess published Burgess Unabridged: A New Dictionary of Words You Have Always Needed in 1914. This collection of neologisms was followed by a 1963 essay comprised of plausible definitions for real place-names published in The Jenguin Pennings. Douglas Adams published something similar in his 1983 book, The Meaning of Liff; his concept arose while traveling with John Lloyd. Lloyd produced Not the Nine O’Clock News and the concept was sold to America. In America, the show became Not Necessarily the News and this show adopted the made-up word definition concept as well, calling it Sniglets.

The Show That Gave These Words A Name

Squimmets: the threads dangling off bananas. Source: (The Daily Meal)

Not Necessarily the News first aired in September 1982 on HBO as a comedy special, later becoming a series from 1983 to 1990. The show included "parody news items, parodies of commercials, sketches, and overdubbing and editing of actual news items.” It continued its format until May, 1989. Its final episode came in 1990, with a special, “Not Necessarily the Year in Review."  Sniglets, which was presented by Rich Hall, was a recurring sketch on the show, and during the sketch, Hall invited people to send in their own sniglets.

The Man Behind The Words

Rich Hall. Source: (Tina Downham, wikipedia)

Rich Hall appeared on and wrote for The David Letterman Show from 1982-1984. For his work on Letterman, he won two Emmy Awards. From 1984-1985, he was a writer and cast member on Saturday Night Live. He also appeared on Late Night with Conan O’Brien several times. Although the Sniglets segment was particular to NNTN, Hall's career as a comedian has continued.

A Selection Of Sniglets

When your dog leaves slime on the window, that is pupkus. Source: (reddit)

Aeropalmics: The study of wind resistance conducted by holding a cupped hand out the car window.

Airdirt:  A hanging plant that's been ignored for three weeks or more.

Anticiparcellate: Waiting until the mailman is several houses down the street before picking up the mail, so as not to appear too anxious.

Strumble: That invisible object you always pretend made you trip, when it was actually your own stupid clumsiness.

Aquadextrous: Possessing the ability to turn the bathtub faucet on and off with your toes.

Arachnidiot: A person, who, having wandered into an "invisible" spider web, begins gyrating and flailing about wildly.

Baldage: The accumulation of hair in the drain after showering.

Bleemus: The disgusting film on the top of soups and cocoa that sit out for too long.

Blivett: To turn one's pillow over and over, looking for the cool spot.

Bozone: The substance surrounding stupid people that stops bright ideas from penetrating. The bozone layer, unfortunately, shows little sign of breaking down in the near future.

Brakenoia: The act or urge of stepping on the brake on the passenger side of the car

Carperpetuation: The act, when vacuuming, of running over a string at least a dozen times, reaching over and picking it up, examining it, then putting it back down to give the vacuum one more chance.

Dopeler effect:The tendency of stupid ideas to seem smarter when they come at you rapidly.

Ellacelleration: The mistaken belief that repeatedly pressing the elevator button will make it go faster

Essoasso: any person who drives through a corner gas station to avoid stopping at the intersection.

Dunkin Hacken: the violent coughing attack brought on by enjoying powdered sugar donuts.

Exaspirin: Any bottle of pain reliever with an impossible-to-remove cotton wad at the top.

Execuglide: To propel oneself about an office without getting up from the chair.

Expresshole: A person who goes through the grocery store's 12-item express lane with 22 items.

Fictate: To inform a television or screen character of impending danger under the assumption they can hear you.

And The Words Go On

Beelzebug: Satan in the form of a mosquito that gets into your bedroom at 3 in the morning and cannot be cast out. Source: (Sciencemag.org)

Gladhandling: To attempt, with frustrating results, to find and separate the ends of a plastic sandwich or trash bag.

Lactomangulation: Manhandling the "open here" spout on a milk carton so badly that one has to resort to using the "illegal" side.

Laminites:Those strange people who show up in the photo section of brand-new wallets.

Maggit: Any of the hundreds of subscription cards that fall from the pages of a magazine. (pl. MAGGREGATE)

Marp: The impossible-to-find beginning of a roll of cellophane tape.

Microts: The two thumbnail-sized pieces you end up with when trying to remove a paper towel in a public washroom.

Motspur: The pesky fourth wheel on a shopping cart that refuses to cooperate with the other three.

Snorfing: That game waitresses play when they wait until right after you've taken a large bite of food to ask you how your food is

Mowmuffins: The dried accumulation of grass on the underside of lawn mowers.

Pigslice: The last unclaimed piece of pizza that everyone is secretly dying for.

Postalports:The annoying windows in envelopes that never line up with the address.

A Few More

Furbling: Having to wander through a maze of ropes at an airport or bank even when you are the only person in line. Source: (Stanchions.com)

Purpitation: To take something off the grocery shelf, decide you don't want it, and then put it in another section.

Shuzma: The portion of window cleaner that the spray tube can no longer reach.

Slackjam: The condition of being trapped in one's own trousers while trying to pull them on without first removing shoes.

Slurm: The slime that accumulates on the underside of a soap bar when it sits in the dish too long.

Snackmosphere:The empty but explosive layer of air at the top of a potato chip bag.

Tilecomet: the piece of toliet paper that clings to your foot after you've left a public restroom

Yardribbons: The unmowed patches of grass discovered after one has put away the mower.

Zeept: The accumulation of dead insects around an electric bug fryer.

Zerblot: The last kid picked in any neighborhood sporting event.

Anaception:The body's ability to actually affect television reception by moving about the room.

Doork: A person who always pushes on a door marked "pull" or vice versa.

Brimplet: A frayed shoelace that must be moistened to pass through a shoe eyelet.

Bumperglints: The small reflective obstacles in the middle of interstate highways which supposedly keep drivers awake and on the track.

Chwads: Discarded gum found beneath tables and countertops.

Essoasso: One who swerves through a service station to avoid a red light.

Profanitype: symbols used by cartoonists to replace swear words.

Did The Words Last?

The spork. Source: (wikimedia)

Sniglets were so popular that they spawned several books as well as a board game. With regards to the sniglets phenomenon, Hall has indicated that they are accessible and that the books are easily digestible. While they are intended for their comedic value, they can, according to Hall, be used for their etymologic value.  One of the sniglets is a word that students could find useful, terma helper, a word to indicate the extra verbiage used to stretch a 600-word essay to the required 1000.  Some of the sniglets are in the urban dictionary.  And one of the words -- which Hall might not actually have invented, according to the word's Wikipedia entry -- has made it into widestream acceptance: spork.

Tags: HBO | Not Necessarily The News | Remember This?... | Rich Hall | Sniglets

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Cyn Felthousen-Post


Cyn loves history, music, Irish dancing, college football and nature. Social media is also her thing, keeping up with trends and celebrities with positive news. She can be found outside walking or hiking with her son when she's not working. Carpe diem is her fave quote, get out there and seize the day!