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…

Anode
Aft
Bilges
Bow
Calorifier
Fore-deck
Morse handle
Pontoon
Port
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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