The Grammarphobia Blog

Boogie smoogie all night long

Q: This showed up in an online forum: “The Bulldog hitch never actually matched the ‘A’ frame on the trailer, and a means of making it solid required a little smoogying.” Isn’t that a wonderful word? Never heard it before.

A: A wonderful word indeed! The writer apparently used “smoogying” to mean improvising or being inventive or making do or something of that sort.

The reference to “smoogying” in that online welders’ forum is the only one we can find with that meaning.

And we noticed that the welder who used the word inserted an animated icon of a laughing face right afterward, so he meant it humorously.

Our guess is that he used “smoogying” as a nonce-word, one he made up on the spot.

A nonce-word, says the Oxford  English Dictionary, is “a word apparently used only ‘for the nonce,’ i.e. on one specific occasion or in one specific text or writer’s works.”

We can find only one authoritative reference with an entry for “smoogy,” but not as a verb.

Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang says “smoogy” is an Australian slang word invented about a hundred years ago as “a collective term for people who kiss and cuddle.”

This term, according to Cassell’s, may be related to another Australian slang word, spelled “smoodge” or “smooge,” meaning “to ingratiate oneself, to cuddle up.”

Eric Partridge’s A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (8th ed.) traces the verb “smoodge” to Australia in the late 19th century.

Partridge says it originally meant “to flatter, wheedle, speak with deliberate amiability,” but in the 20th century the word came to mean “to make love, pay court” in Australian slang.

Interestingly, there may be a connection here (however, tenuous) with the verb “schmooze.” Cassell’s and Partridge say “schmooze” was sometimes written as “schmooge” or “smoodge.”

The OED calls “schmooze” an adaptation of the “Yiddish shmuesn, to talk, converse, chat.”

Oxford’s first citation is from the New York Times Weekly Magazine (1897): “He loves dearly to stop and chat (Schmoos, he calls it).”

But back to “smoogying.” We’ve come across a couple of “smoogie” references that may be using the verb as a euphemism for making love.

In 1975, Atlanta Rhythm Section recorded a bluesy song called “Boogie Smoogie” (containing the line “boogie smoogie all night long”). And in 2004 Stevie Kotey recorded one called “Smoogie Down Punk.”

Slang, as you can see, is just as intricate and complicated as standard English, and much harder to pin down!

This is entirely unrelated, but the OED has an entry for “smuggy,” a rare adjective meaning “grimy” or “smutty.”

The dictionary has only two citations for this adjective, one from about 1515 that refers to “smoggy colyers” (colliers, or coal miners), and one from 1630 that mentions a “smuggy Smith” (blacksmith).

That long-dead adjective is likely to be related to a long-dead noun: “smug,” a word for “blacksmith.”

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