Wednesday, January 21, 2009

So, Ranygazoo...

Why Ranygazoo? What does that even mean?

I love this word. I love words in general, but this one particularly.

I took ranygazoo from one of the novels of the late great P.G. Wodehouse. It was one of his Jeeves and Wooster stories. I can't remember which one, only that there were wacky hi-jinks and numerous comic misunderstandings and Bertie Wooster had once again landed himself 'in the soup.' As they apparently used to say. Jeeves, of course, put everything to rights by the end of the story.

Not that that narrows it down.

I have never heard or seen this word outside that one story. If you Google it a few definitions come up; a prank, horseplay, nonsense. It's confirmed as 1940's ish slang, so I don't think Wodehouse made it up.

In the context of the story Bertie describes his current hilarious misfortune as "a right ranygazoo." It puts me in mind of Oliver Hardy turning to Stan Laurel and sneering, "Well here's another nice mess you've gotten me into," while they're both dripping wet with paint and chicken feathers or something.

So. All that aside, the real reason I picked Ranygazoo as the name for my online space is that it's fun to say. The way I pronounce it (which may or may not be correct, but I'm not going to stop) is RAN-ee-guh-ZOO. Say it a few times aloud, linger on the zoooo. It rolls off the tongue so pleasantly it doesn't even matter what it means.

I love Wodehouse, and British comedy in general, and I'd considered using some Wodehousian word or phrase when I stumbled upon this one and fell in love.

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