Wednesday, March 27, 2013


Meaning: Mystified, confused. Cotgrave has:
To dunce upon, to puzzle, or (too much*) beat the braines about.
Usefulness: 1

Logofascination: 1 (A Rabelaisian formation from the Greek mataiosvain or frivolous, and a French term, grabeller, which Cotgrave defines as "To garbell spices &c. (and hence) also, to examine precisely, sift neerely, looke narrowly, search curiously, into." I like the fact that the spelling of garbell is itself garbled into grabeller.)

In the wild: It's in Stalky and Co! That's right, this blog has allowed me to connect Sir Thomas and Kipling, albeit via Rabelais. 'The Impressionists' features this line: "Come to think of it, we have metagrobolised 'em."

Degrees: 1

Connections: n/a

Which is used in: G&P, three times, albeit with a different spelling each time.  One example is quoted in a previous post. Another appears in Book the Third, XXVI, just after Panurge leaves Herr Trippa (he of the -mancys):
I find my brains altogether metagrabolized and confounded, and my spirits in a most dunsical puzzle at the bitter talk of this devilish, hellish, damned fool.
Rabelais also uses it in a sense meaning to learn, presumably by beating ones brains on; we're in Gargantua (Book the First), XIX, and meeting one of Rabelais' favourite archetypes, the nonsensical lawyer:
Consider, Domine, I have been these eighteen days in matagrabolizing this brave speech.  
The speech may be brave, but it's neither clear nor sensical, particularly as Gargantua sets out to get the lawyer drunk.

*Beat your brains if you must, but not too much. 

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