Favourites from the Uxbridge English Dictionary

There’s a programme on BBC Radio 4 called I’m Sorry I Haven’t Clue. It’s subtitled ‘the antidote to panel games’ and consists of ‘two teams of two comedians ‘being given silly things to do’ by the host. A simple enough format, but one that has endured for years. The show began, hosted by the late Humphrey Lyttelton, in 1972. After the death of the famously grumpy Humph, Jack Dee took over and the show is still going strong.


I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue participants. Back row l to r: Jeremy Hardy, pianist Colin Sell, Tim Brooke-Taylor. Front row l to r: Graeme Garden, host Jack Dee, Barry Cryer

I rarely miss the show when a series is running, and if I do I try to do the Listen Again thing to catch up with it. In fact, I often do the Listen Again thing even when I did hear it go out live, just to have another chance to giggle. We are too short of things that make us laugh out loud these days, but ISIHAC is one of them for me.

One of my favourite rounds has always been the teams reading out their entries from the UXBRIDGE ENGLISH DICTIONARY, where new meanings are given to existing words. In 2016 some enterprising spark at Random Penguin finally brought out a collected edition, edited by Graeme Garden (a regular panellist) and Jon Naismith, who has been the producer of the show since 1991.

Here are a few of the ones that made me laugh the hardest. For more, you’ll simply have to listen to the show or buy the book.

Uxbridge English DictionaryAccomplish: 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

Intercontinental: someone who has wet themselves all over the world

and finally:

Juniper: Did you bite that woman?