Fun Word of the Day: Stonking

'A Pint of Beer,' copyright Ian T and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons LicenceThe second I saw this word, I knew it had to be British. Sure enough, it is:

[“Stonking”] been popular slang in the UK for many years, and enjoyed a certain vogue there in the late 1980s and early 90s…The Brits, of course, are famous for their intriguing but opaque slang. No one, for example, has ever come up with a convincing explanation for either “boffin,” meaning “a technical researcher or expert,” or “bog standard,” the equivalent of our “standard issue.” Sometimes I suspect they’re doing it on purpose. Perfidious Albion, y’know.

The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines “stonking” as an adjective meaning “Excellent, amazing; considerable, powerful” (“The Kenwood receiver is …  stonking value for anyone wanting to take their first steps into home cinema,” 1993), and as an adverb (modifying an adjective) meaning “extremely, very” (“Snogging tackle for stonking wet smackers, warm and reassuring like a comfy settee,” 1993). (Please don’t ask me what that example means. As I said, they’re probably messing with our minds.) The noun “stonker,” which means something very large or impressive of its kind, first popped up in print in the late 1980s.

(h/t to Antonin Pribetic for bringing the word to my attention, and to Natasha Phillips for actually using it.)

This is one of those words that, if you say it with anything other than a spot-on British accent (preferably a London variant), particularly anything even hinting of a Texas drawl, you will just sound like a jackass.

For some reason, it reminds me of this joke that is only funny when said with a English accent with a hint of Cockney:

Bartender: How’s your beer?
Customer: It’s like making love in a canoe!
Bartender: What do you mean?
Customer: It’s fucking close to water!

I will add “stonking” to the list of words I can only say when I am portraying a pompous Englishman in an improv show.

Photo credit: ‘A Pint of Beer,’ copyright Ian T and licensed for reuse under this Creative Commons Licence.


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