Jonathon Green, slang lexicographer extraordinaire, has a BBC News piece called “Mullered and 61 other words for beaten at sport” that makes enjoyable reading; I particularly like some of the ones that have fallen by the wayside, such as “shend (to humiliate, put to shame by superiority and linked to the German schande, shame), overwin (the aggressive antithesis of the persuasive “win over”), scomfit (ie discomfit, which also meant defeat 200 years before it evolved into confuse or disconcert), cumber (to encumber, presumably with embarrassment) and fenk (from French vaincre, to conquer).” Fenk — what a great verb! Only three citations, the last two from the mid-14th century (Alisaunder 323 “Philip fenkes in fyght” and Alexander and Dindimus 339 “Haddest þou fenked þe fon.. þat in þi flech dwellen”), but I think it should be brought back. “Curses, fenked again!” Green ends with some more recent ones “that seem to have slipped through the net”: ramscootrify, rumbusticate, spiflicate, and scrumplicate. The BBC called for submissions from readers, which they’ve now run in “Readers’ 48 words for defeat,” from gub to beat hollow. (Thanks, Eric!)


  1. In my family in Australia, spiflicate meant to tickle until the victim cried for mercy …
    I have no idea of the origin but it must have come from my mother who was third-generation Australian, my father being of French mother-tongue.

  2. I second the motion to resurrect “fenk”, but propose to regularly pair it with another f-word, aliteration ftw.

  3. Hm, “powned/p0wnd/p0wn3d” is neither among the 61, nor one of the 41, although the latter group includes at least one term from gaming. What giveth?

  4. I once read and understood spifflicated [sic] in context as meaning ‘drunk’, but I’ve forgotten the where and when.

    The Lord Peter mystery Have His Carcase contains the line “But don’t you see, my dear old goat, that it completely busts up and spifflicates the medical evidence?”

  5. Oops. For “[sin” read “[sic] in”.

  6. When I was growing up in Australia, my father sometimes used to threaten to spiflicate me or my siblings if we were disobedient. I never found out exactly what spiflication entailed, but I certainly lived in mortal fear of it.

  7. Oops. For “[sin” read “[sic] in”.

    Fixed, but I mourn the loss of “sin context.”

  8. David Marjanović says

    What giveth?

    Pwnd and pwnz0red have been officially replaced by Netherlands-on-Spain. 😉

  9. Soon to be replaced by Argentina-on-Netherlands.

  10. My father used to say “I’ll maralyze you!”

  11. Sounds like a variant of Moe’s “I’ll moitalize ya.”

  12. David,

    Pwnd and pwnz0red have been officially replaced by Netherlands-on-Spain.
    So that bullshit thing in Brazil is still going on, eh?

  13. “Moitalize”? Is there an /l/? How’d that get into “murderize”?

  14. “Mortalize”, I suppose.

  15. David Marjanović says

    So that bullshit thing in Brazil is still going on, eh?

    As our esteemed host confirmed at 1:11 pm yesterday.

  16. David Marjanović says

    Soon to be replaced by Argentina-on-Netherlands.

    I don’t know. Germany 7:1 Brazil is one of the highest and most baffling results since the adoption of the current rules.

  17. No kidding. I just hope Germany got all the goals out of their system for the ARG-GER final.

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