• spruik •
sprook • Hear it!
Part of Speech: Verb
Meaning: To spin, pimp, pitch, tout, hawk, as 'those who spruik outside sleazy bars'.
Notes: Here is a contribution to the English languages by Australians. It certainly is of Germanic origin, for the nouns derived from it are (personal) spruiker and (action) spruiking.
In Play: One place to observe sleazy spruiking is along the midway of a carnival: "Horace started his political career spruiking for a sideshow at the Burnham and Bailout Circus." However, that is not the only place we find spruiking, and acceptable spruiking at that: "The president spruiked his nominee until the Senate approved her."
Word History: Today's Good Word probably originated in Dutch or Afrikaans. (Afrikaans is closely related to Dutch.) Compare Dutch spraak "speech", spreek "speak", spreuk "saying", sprook "story, tale, white lie". Since it was first recorded in the late 1890s, it seems to have been brought back by soldiers returning from the Boer War. In the earliest uses it was spelled sprook. The UI digraph suggests an Afrikaans origin. The Dutch words share a source with English speak and speech: Proto-Germanic sprekanan, source also of German sprechen and Danish sprog. The Proto-Germanic word comes from PIE spreg- "to spread", which somehow acquired the sense of "speak" in Proto-Germanic. (Time to spruik David Myer's contribution of today's unusual though useful Good Word and thank him for it.)
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