This word literally means the edible stomach lining of an animal like a cow. In some countries, it is regarded as a delicacy.  Can’t say I was very fond of it despite my mother’s attempts to disguise it in different recipes.

I´ll make you a lovely plate of tripe and onions.

I was not influenced however by the other use, which is negative.  Informally, tripe is rubbish or nonsense.


The press just write loads of tripe these days on the subject of freedom of speech.

You are talking tripe Jerry, no one knows what the President took into account when he decided to promote a change in the law.

I suspect that it is losing ground to the more graphic and once offensive terms like bullshit, bull or crap.  Still, for those who are not tripe lovers, its derogatory meaning makes sense!




A list of duties in an organisation, school, club, flatshare, etc.

Have you got the roster for this month? Who’s responsible for cleaning the kitchen? They look like they haven’t been touched.

Or the schedule for different posts in an organisation like a hospital.  We can see it used as a verb here.

I’m rostered on for nights next week but then I have four days off straight so I guess that’s something.

According to the roster, I am on front desk until 11 when Stuart comes to relieve me.

In American English schedule or rota may replace this word.

What is interesting is that roster comes to English from Dutch and is derived from the word roast.


Apparently someone made a connection between the straight lines of the grid or grill and a list of duties. Or maybe they thought that being rostered on to something was like having a hot iron applied. Go figure!

Kippers and Ukippers


A kipper is a very British term. A fish, usually a herring, preserved in salt and then smoked. Kippers seemed to be a popular breakfast dish at one point and presumably were very practical and long lasting. I don’t really remember them growing up in New Zealand, as we don’t have herrings for a start and fish smoked to a leathery quality was not so common. So, I suspect, kipper is a word that is not well known to much of the English speaking world.


Now there is a reminder of them in the term Ukipper which you see in articles about British politics.  It refers to a member of the UK Independence Party which was one of the leading protagonists in Brexit or the idea of getting Britain out of Europe. Ukippers are regarded as having very particular views that often cause mirth or exasperation  in others.

Did you know that Gaz is a Ukipper? Saw him being interviewed at a meeting on television the other night!

The photo is of their most famous leader Nigel Farage.



I love this word. A cute flat fish found in various parts of the world and called flounder at least in Britain, Canada and New Zealand. Delicate to eat and in terms of managing the bones, it is quite straightforward as the central bone holds together. If you look up on the internet, there is quite an interesting fact about one eye migrating to the other side (the one which faces up!) as they tend to live on the sea bed merging into the sandy bottom where possible.

To flounder is a word to describe someone wobbling or struggling, which is perhaps a little mean towards this fish but gives a graphic picture all the same. When you flounder, you find it difficult to control the situation or you act clumsily and without certainty.

The President floundered about unable to answer the opposition’s questions in Congress.


 When the teacher asked Lucy the question she found herself floundering and unable to come up with a coherent answer.


 The players floundered about on the muddy field unable to control the ball.

 In this economic crisis, even well established firms are floundering.

Pear-shaped and Turn to custard


Do you need some more expressions to describe failure? I guess there’s always room for another one or two especially if they take the sting out of the experience. Here are two that I rather like, especially the second which comes from my beloved New Zealand.


Pear-shaped seems to be regarded as British in origin although I recently heard it used by a North American. Basically it means to go wrong. The idea seems to be that you want a perfect circle and instead of drawing that because you are not so good, you end up drawing a pear.

The latest expedition by explorers to walk to the North Pole has gone pear-shaped with the loss of two support sleds and the breaking up of the usually reliable pack ice.


Turn to custard tends to be used when the plans and preparation amount to nothing because of circumstances beyond our control.


We thought we might take a picnic to the beach but that idea turned to custard when it started to pour down.

The city council had intended putting a much needed bypass through Silverton. With the public protests, the difficulty of getting resource consents and the budget deficit that has all turned to custard.

The All Blacks were advancing well towards a try when they fumbled the ball, lost possession and their manouevre turned to custard.

Oddly enough, some people object to these expressions. Some say that pear-shaped is positive, like the shape of a woman’s body especially those Renaissance nudes.

On internet I read someone commenting that she makes great custard and why should it get such a bad reputation?  I imagine that as custard is somewhat runny, it describes perfectly when your solid plans become uncontrollably fluid.


Tapioca and Sago

As a kid, my mother would produce tapioca and sago puddings fairly regularly as an option for dessert and I have the sensation that I was one of the last generations to enjoy this    pleasure, even if it was in their instant packet form. Very very occasionally I have seen them on restaurant menus in those new bistros that want to unearth traditional dishes and give them a trendy new twist.


Tapioca is a starch made from the cassava root, which we in South America recognise as yuca or mandioca. It is gluten and protein-free, thus fat-free. Notice that it has a pearly texture.


Sago is from the pith or spongy stem of the sago palm tree. Very similar in texture to tapioca as I recall.

Tapioca has various slang meanings including clingy and crazy and some we won’t go into here!

And lastly a joke. I am pretty useless at recalling jokes but somehow I remember this one from a Christmas cracker: How do you start a pudding race? Sago.

Blancmanges and Europuddings

In British English there are some words related to pudding, which are not very complimentary. I often wondered why people would use puddings as an insult.  Let’s have a look.

I first heard of students being described as puddings and probably used it myself too. The profile of such a person would be a sort of lump in the corner of the classroom barely reacting to anything and hard to move or enthuse.  Solid and lacking in any inspiration.  I have also heard blancmange used in a similar way.

Those three puddings never opened their mouth during the whole lesson.

Alfie just sits there like a blancmange and expects everyone to entertain him.


Blancmange, pronounced /bləˈmɒndʒ/ with the ‘nc’ silent is a sort of cross between a milk pudding and a jelly.   White and insipid with a jellyish tremble if touched.  Probably an acquired taste as milk and cornstarch are not immediate partners in my book.

I believe it was the name of a successful band too.


Europudding was common in the last decade, though you hear it less seldom.  It described movies made by the combined money and efforts of various European nations. The actors would come from different countries putting up the money, the film could well have been in a “neutral” language like English even though none of the protagonists were native speakers and there was no good artistic reason to use it. Many of this type of film are stolid or heavy and unconvincing as they are built more from financial compromise than from pure artistic vision.  Perhaps the Eiffel Tower appears simply to sell the film rather than being part of the story.

Henry invested in a film last year.  Typical Europudding. Boring, incomprehensible and sank like a stone at the box office despite the cast of famous actors and the pretty landscapes in it.


Scrumptious, scrummy and scrumpy


Scrumptious is one of those words that sounds so nice, particularly as it means delicious. Perhaps it was more commonly used in the past than now but we still hear people talking about a cake or a dish being scrumptious.

Marge, your carrot cake is simply scrumptious.

The table for lunch was full of scrumptious tarts and pies.

Apparently, the word derives from sumptuous which means magnificent, lavish and expensive and can include non-food items like furnishings.

Scrumptious however seems to apply to food and those drinks that have a food-like quality such as smoothies or shakes. A simple juice or cocktail is less likely to be scrumptious. For me, that suggests a sense of volume or body in the food. Something scrumptious is food or drink you savour. It doesn’t just slip down.


An informal British version is Scrummy, which reminds us of Yummy. Scrummy would seem to be more limited to food than yummy which I have seen used to refer to people and feelings as well.


Scrumpy is a term for dry cider from the West of England.