Printable Version
Pronunciation: kêr-plêngk Hear it!

Part of Speech: Interjection, Verb

Meaning: 1. An interjection imitating the sound of something slightly ringy slamming down on something. 2. A verb meaning the same thing as plunk.

Notes: We use today's Good Word all the time without thinking about it. It is an onomatopoetic interjection, imitating the sound of something that makes a sound resembling [plêngk] hitting something, almost anything. It may also be used as a verb: "If you want a ride to California, kerplunk your share of the gas money on the table right now." We see it in many similar words, such as kersplash, kerflop, kerbam.

In Play: Today's word is so loosely defined, it can fit almost any sound of a small object hitting a larger one: "Cookie Baker was sitting in the garden trying to think of what kind of pie to bake when a pecan fell out of the tree above her and hit her kerplunk, right on her head." This interjection also can imitate the sound of something hitting the water: "When Jack Hammer leapt over the little stream, his lunch bag slipped out of his hand and went kerplunk into the water."

Word History: Today's Good Word is plunk with a mysterious prefix, ker-, which often comes up as simply ka- (ka-boom, ka-ching). Plunk is something of a mystery itself. The best speculation I have heard is that is it a variation of pluck that sounds more like the string of a string instrument being plucked. It was first used in reference to "plunking" on fiddle strings. However, since it also sounds like a heavy metal coin hitting the counter, it picked up that sense, too. It is obvious that more play than grammar went into the making of today's Good Word. (We heartily thank Joe Heckel for kerplunking this Good Word on our desk.)

Dr. Goodword,

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