Friday, 6 August 2010


Curate's friend

Kennings, invented by the Vikings, are riddling ways of referring to things. The sea was the whale’s way or the swan's road, and a sword was a – blood onion? (They're always popular at the beginning of the school or academic year – they must be on a curriculum somewhere. And since they're so popular, I'm putting the whole collection here.)

Adam’s ale: water
ankle biter: child

beetle-crushers: policemen’s boots
big sleep: death (Raymond Chandler)
blindman's holiday: night, darkness
bog trotter: Irishman
boneyard: cemetery
brother of the quill: writer
bunfight: tea party

cake’ole: mouth
cherry picker: lorry with elevated platform
cloud splitter:
sky scraper in Icelandic (skýjakljúfur)
cow catcher: grid on front of old American train
crimper: hairdresser
curate’s friend: three-tier cake stand

devil's dandruff: cocaine
dumb waiter: rotating tray
fang snatcher: dentist
flywalk (Once you’ve cut a loaf of bread, the cut end becomes the “flywalk”.)

gannet’s bath: sea (Anglo-Saxon)
gate crasher: uninvited guest
hot seat:
electric chair

idiot box/idiot’s lantern: TV
jail bird: prisoner
knight of the road: tramp

last roundup: death
long goodbye: death (Raymond Chandler)
mother’s ruin: gin

necktie party: lynch mob
one-armed bandit: gambling machine
passion killers: long knickers
pen-pusher: clerk
pine overcoat: coffin
puddle jumper: small plane

rug rat: child
sea dog: sailor
sky pilot:
skyscraper: tall building


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