I’ve just finished Maugham’s Ashenden stories (see this thread), and in the last one I found a word even better than Tingel-tangel: “Oh, come off it. Templeton isn’t the sort of chap to play bumble-puppy bridge with a girl like that unless he’s getting something out of it, and she knows a thing or two, I bet.” Bumble-puppy bridge! Of course I ran to the OED, and was not disappointed (the entry is from 1888, though new citations have been added):
Etymology: Derivation unknown. Compare bumble v.2 [“To blunder, flounder”]
a. An old game resembling bagatelle, but played out of doors with marbles or ‘dumps’ of lead; nine-holes.
b. Applied humorously to whist played unscientifically. Also of bridge. Also attrib.
1801 J. Strutt Glig-gamena Angel-ðeod iii. vii. 242 (note) .
1884 Sat. Rev. 25 Oct. 520 ‘Bumble puppy’ or domestic whist at shilling points.
1885 Longman’s Mag. 6 597 A common form of home whist—called by Pembridge, Bumblepuppy.
1936 E. Culbertson Contract Bridge Compl. i. 34 Persons who claim they ‘play no conventions’ either play bumble-puppy Bridge or do play conventions that are tacitly understood.
1947 W. S. Maugham Creatures of Circumstance 104 Templeton isn’t the sort of chap to play bumble-puppy bridge with a girl like that unless he’s getting something out of it.
c. A game in which a ball slung to a post is struck with a racket by each player in opposite directions, the object being to wind the string entirely round the post; also, the post so used.
1900 L. B. Walford One of Ourselves xiv, They had had a great game of ‘bumble-puppy’.
a1918 J. T. B. McCudden Five Years in R.F.C. (1919) xii. 227 We had a wonderful game called ‘Bumble-puppy’, which one played with tennis rackets.
1940 M. Sadleir Fanny by Gaslight i. 43 One of the boys seized a chance to occupy the bumble-puppy… It was great fun hitting the ball in its string-bag so that it wound tightly round the pole.
I was curious about the citation “J. Strutt Glig-gamena Angel-ðeod iii. vii. 242 (note),” so I looked it up; fortunately Google Books has the volume in question (it’s also at the Internet Archive), and we can see the note itself:
Hence some say the game of nine-holes was called ‘Bubble the Justice,’ on the supposition that it could not be set aside by the justices, because no such pastime was named in the prohibitory statutes ; others give this denomination to a different game : the name by which it is now most generally known is ‘Bumble-puppy;’ and the vulgarity of the term is well adapted to the company by whom it is usually practised.
It seems clear that this belongs under sense a rather than b. At any rate, a delightful word; anybody familiar with it?