Printable Version
Pronunciation: spæch-kahk Hear it!

Part of Speech: Noun, Verb

Meaning: 1. [Noun] A chicken or other fowl split in almost in half and spread either half for grilling. 2. [Verb] To split a chicken or other fowl in half and grill it. 3. [Verb] To sandwich in, insert in between; to squeeze or shoehorn in.

Notes: As with other lexical oddities, such as billingsgate, comeuppance, and collywobbles, today's Good Word is pretty much immune to derivation. It may be used as a noun or verb but only inflectional endings may be added to them, e.g. spatchcocks, spatchcocked, and spatchcocking. As long as we do not forget the T in spelling this word, we will have no problem putting it to use.

In Play: It is surprising that this word is not more often used since it is a almost a sniglet, a word we need but don't have: "I was running late, so I picked up half a spatchcock at the supermarket on the way home." I really love this word as a verb: "Beryl O'Voyle was not originally invited to the fuel planning meeting but was somehow spatchcocked in at the last minute."

Word History: Yum-m-m-m!Today's odd but nonetheless Good Word is not a product of the Wild West in the US, as are so many lexical oddities, but comes from the Emerald Isle, Ireland. According to Francis Grose's Classical Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, first published in 1785, today's Good Word is a reduction of 'dispatch cock'. The Oxford English Dictionary offers one ancient example of spatch meaning "dispatch". Spatchcock may well have been influenced by spitchcock "eel chopped and cooked", containing a word suggestive of spit. However, eels and chickens are quite different, and spitch is not a normal derivation of spit. (Since we haven't so far spatchcocked a note of gratitude to Diane Chambliss for suggesting today's Good Word, let us take this opportunity to do so.)

Dr. Goodword,

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