Tuesday, March 24, 2009


According to this source, there are only 424 words ending with "ch". (Link to "Morewords.com). Well, they can now add one more word to that list.

John Gardner, in his wonderful book "The Art of Fiction" uses a word that had me playing word detective. The word is "oonch". (By the way, if you are in the mood for inflicting some serious damage on your gentle, creative self, I would strongly recommend reading this book.)

When I first read it, I could not help but associate it with the Hindi word "oonch", a word meaning "up" or "high" ("oonchai": meaning altitude or height; also, "oonch" + "chai" = "high tea", har har. Just kidding.)

This is how Gardner uses the word:
"Leave nothing--no slightest detail--unexamined; and when you discover implications in some image or event, oonch those implications toward the surface."
Unable to find any references in my beloved OED and on the Web, I turned to books.google.com and that paid off.

The Dictionary of American Regional English defines "oonch" as:

(The wonderful Dictionary of American Regional English)

So there you go. "Oonch". It's a bit like "oomph" minus the sex appeal.


Here's a really good interview with John Gardner. (Link to Paris Review, pdf of the full interview available in the story.)


Rahul Siddharthan said...

Does he supply a word ending in "gry"? Supposedly there are only two, though you would think there would be more (so a common trick question is "name three").

km said...

Rahul: Classic one, that :) I did look it up. The third word is "puggry", a variation of "puggree" ("pagadi" in Hindi)

Rahul Siddharthan said...

That's cheating :) But hey, Lexulous accepts it (I just checked) so it must be ok, right?

Lekhni said...

There are 434 words ending in "ch"? I can't think of more than a few - of course, if they are going to include "aircoach", whatever that is.. And I find they don't have "poonch". Hobson-Jobson, on the other hand, might well have it.

km said...

lekhni: Well, if "puggry" can make it, why not "poonch"?