If you’ve ever heard “I’m sorry, I haven’t a clue” on BBC 4 – and it’s been going for decades now – you’ll know about the Uxbridge English Dictionary. It’s one round in the show in which the panel come up with alternative meanings of English words. For example…

  • Accomplish: a drunken sidekick.
  • Befuddle: a tight group of cattle.
  • Croquette: a tiny little crocodile.
  • Dictaphone: someone you really don’t like calling.
  • Economist: cheap fog.
  • Falsetto: fake ice cream.
  • Ghoulish: Hungarian stew that comes back to haunt you.
  • Hobnob: cooking accident.

The Canal Boating Times came up with their own version of this – The Uxbridge Boaters’ Dictionary – and I had to share it with you.

  • Black Prince – In days when we used film in our cameras, this is what came back from the developers when we’d taken 36 pictures without loading the film properly
  • Butty – A frisky goat
  • Canaletto – An ice-cream cornet for boaters
  • Crick – A painful neck condition often the result of repeatedly craning to view new craft at a boat show
  • Cut – A concise summary of government policy towards funding of the waterways
  • Deadlock – A lock on a canal that has yet to be restored
  • Four berth – The arrival of quadruplets
  • Gongoozler – A goozler who has moved on
  • Grand Union – An anti-brexiteer’s view of the EU
  • Gunwale – A term designed by boaters to identify non-boaters by their inability to pronounce it properly. Not to be confused with the well-known athlete Sally Gunwale
  • Hen’s Teeth – See ‘London Mooring’
  • Jetty – Looking a bit like an aeroplane
  • Josher – More like Josh
  • Lift-bridge – A card game, useful for passing the time in an elevator
  • Liveaboard – A less appealing, offal-based version of a cheeseboard
  • Lock gate – A scandal involving a canal
  • London mooring – See ‘Hen’s Teeth’
  • Mooring pin – A four-digit code used to gain access to a mooring
  • Off-side mooring – A mooring that has fewer than two other boats between your boat and one of the goals on a canal-side football pitch.
  • On-line mooring – A place where you can moor your boat and have access to free wifi
  • Sluice – It needs tightening
  • Staircase lock – A child-proof device, useful if your toddler has learned how to open the stairgate
  • Summit pound – A rare local currency accepted at pubs on the highest section of the canal
  • Towpath – One of five narrow paths at the end of a footpath
  • Traditional stern – The type of headmaster common in years gone by. Less strict individuals may be termed semi-traditional
  • Windlass – A Yorkshire term for a woman who presents the gale warnings on the TV weather forecast
  • Working boat -What you hope the hire-company will provide for your boating holiday

Now, I’m sure there are several amongst you who have a sense of humour and a way with words, so please have a go at finding amusing alternative definitions of words associated with life on the waterways. How about these for starters…

Morse handle
Rubbing strake

…but please feel free to choose your own words and definitions. Enter them in the comments box below, and let’s all have a laugh!

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