from Wiktionary, Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License

  • n. A nonce word in Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky, explained by Humpty Dumpty as "four o'clock in the afternoon — the time when you begin broiling things for dinner."


Supposedly from bryl or broil. (Wiktionary)



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  • "You seem very clever at explaining words, Sir," said Alice. "Would you kindly tell me the meaning of the poem called Jabberwocky?"

    "Let's hear it," said Humpty Dumpty. "I can explain all the poems that were ever invented—and a good many that haven't been invented just yet."

    This sounded very hopeful, so Alice repeated the first verse.

    "That's enough to begin with," Humpty Dumpty interrupted: "there are plenty of hard words there. Brillig means four o'clock in the afternoon—the time when you begin broiling things for dinner."

    "That'll do very well," said Alice: and slithy?"

    July 18, 2008