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Friday, June 13, 2014

Flounces and flounds

I may have mentioned before the mysterious nature of the 'snicker', the 'snirtle', and the 'smirk' - has anyone actually heard anyone else snicker or snirtle? Or seen someone properly smirk? All excellent descriptive words that have been put to fine use in literature, but do they have any separate existence in reality?

Another word like these is 'flounce'. It starts with 'f' and rhymes with 'pounce' - or 'bounce'. In novels, people occasionally 'flounce off' (another mystery - if people can 'flounce off', can they 'flounce on', too?) But I realised last night that I had no idea what a flounce looked like. I turned the matter over with the Baron and said I wasn't quite sure really how to flounce. The Baron did an imitation flounce for me, cocking her snook in the air and marching off, and it really did look like something that might be described as a 'flounce'. But how could I be sure, really, if this was the only flounce I had ever seen in real life? The Baron admitted she could not remember anyone ever flouncing off from her. She denied flouncing off herself.

I tried a flounce myself at the tram station. It was so unconvincing that I even failed to convince myself. Perhaps I had to get the attitude right, really be in the heat of the moment, as it were.

The etymology of 'flounce ' confounds me as well. Is it a portmanteau word - a combination of 'flail' and 'bounce', for instance, or 'floppy' and 'pounce'? Or maybe it is a type of measurement for a human activity: a 'flustered ounce', with the next measurement up being a 'flippant pound'. 'Flounces' and 'flounds', anyone?

'Snickers' and 'smirks' and 'flounces' and 'confounds' and 'confused' are all fine words for Spoonerising, by the by. 'Snounces' and 'consmirkled', for instance. Or 'confluskers' and 'smirouncickles' and 'flirks'. Whether these have any separate existence in actual, er, actuality can be left to the metaphysicians to sort out.

Have you, dear reader, seen the glorious flounce manifested in nature, as God intended it to be? What does it look like?

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