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BRANNIGAN: The word that should have never been lost


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The English language is a great thing. It’s convenient, sounds nice, and is often the language people on the telly speak in so we don’t have to deal with subtitles and all that. I’ve spoken to a few mates and the general consensus is that the best thing about the English language is the words. We’ve had some real greats over the years. Some real classics; Curmudgeonly is a good one. Doubloons, hyperpolyglot, saucy, and phantasmagoria are also good shouts.

The thing with the English language is, it’s always getting bigger. New words are always popping up. 2012 saw the introduction of soon-to-be-household-favourites such as Cyberchondriac; one who imagines that he is ill, having just read about the symptoms on the internet, Nonversation, which is a conversation that seems meaningless or ridiculous. Facekini is another one. It’s a kind of mask which is worn around on the beach to prevent facial tanning. The less said about ‘Facekini’, the better, really.

But now, just because we’ve got all these fun new words doesn’t mean we should forget about the old ‘uns. Of course, solids like Doubloons and Phantasmagoria will never die out. But, unfortunately, some old reliables’ get left by the wayside. I’m of course talking about those old favourites such as Bablatrice (A female babbler. A lady who enjoys a good chat. Or a babble) and of course Curwhibble (A thing-a-ma-jig or a what-ya-ma-callit). It’s a widely known fact that you simply could not purchase anything from 1750s B&Q without having a ‘curwhibble’ or two in your arsenal.

We all know how hard it was as a language to lose those last two but there’s one word whose sad and untimely demise has hit us as a nation a lot harder than any others. I’m of course referring to ‘Brannigan’. A great word from a great time (1927) created by a great man (Terry Brannigan). It means ‘a drinking spree’. It can also mean ‘squabble’ but I’m not referring to that bit. Brannigan only had 80 short years on this good earth and of course died out in the great fire of Brannigan (2007). Brannigan isn’t just fun to say, it’s also useful. I don’t know about you, but there’s probably about 25-30 conversations a day in my home that could easily make room for Brannigan. Not just make room for it, welcome it.

‘What are you up to tonight?’

 ‘Not really sure, might pop out for a few drinks, then might have a few more, you?’

 A great answer to a great question, obviously, but Brannigan could make it a bit more concise;

‘What are you up to tonight?’

 ‘Going to have a bit of a brannigan I think, you?’

Or maybe even just;

 ‘Going out branniganing’ or simply just ‘BRANNIGANS. LOTS AND LOTS OF BRANNIGANS’.

I know what you’re thinking, and I’ll tell you what, I’m thinking the same thing too; Brannigan could change everything. At this moment in time, the word the national media tend to most frequently use for defining ‘going out for a few drinks’ is ‘binge’. Personally, I’m not really a fan of it. It sounds negative. And a word that makes our national pastime (getting pissed) sound negative is frankly not alright in my books. There’s also the fact that ‘binge’ might be one of the roughest words this side of Collins Dictionary Towers. It’s widely accepted that the only words in the English language more disconcerting and worrisome than Binge are; trough, moist, residue, gusset, and effusion. Binge is a bloody horrendous word.


– to overdrink/overeat or eat immodestly; make a pig of oneself; "She stuffed herself at the dinner"; "The kids binged on ice cream."

It’s unpleasant. It makes drinking excessively seem like not a very nice thing to do and it when you say it out loud, it kind of sounds like the noise someone makes when they’re being sick.

There’s only one reason I can imagine that the word ‘brannigan’ is still not around, and that’s that the great and powerful elders of the dictionary world have probably decided that we’ve got enough words that mean going for a crafty beverage or two. There’s only one thing for it; binge has to go. It’s dying out as it is; I can’t personally recall a time it came up in a conversation regarding anything apart from today’s Daily Mail front page. The swift swap of ‘binge’ for ‘brannigan’ would not only change our normal run-of-the-mill conversations, it would change the face of all English language journalism.

Articles like the one in the Daily Mirror on the 3rd of March entitled ‘Strippers, binge drinking and 'cheating' – have One Direction become grubby cliches?’ could become so much more. Sure, it’s not a bad headline as it is. Not a bad headline at all. But imagine if it was ‘Strippers, BRANNIGANS, and ‘cheating’ – have One Direction become grubby clichés?’ My god. Could you imagine such a world? It’s the sort of world you want your kids to grow up in. Maybe even your grandkids too. Or how about this article which recently appeared in The Daily Telegraph entitled ‘Boris Johnson condemns David Cameron's minimum alcohol price plans’ The lead-in is; Boris Johnson has criticised David Cameron's "regressive" plans to bring in a minimum alchohol (sic) price, saying it will not stop binge-drinking. Fine lead-in, we can all agree on that. But it could be better; Boris Johnson has criticised David Cameron’s “regressive” plans to bring in a minimum alcohol price, saying it will not stop BRANNIGANS. Is that a sentence or IS THAT A SENTENCE?

Interesting side note from that Daily Telegraph article, you may have noticed that they spelt ‘alcohol’ wrongly in the opening sentence (alchohol). Another interesting side note; it’s been online since February 18th and no one has noticed. It did feel good quoting the Telegraph and knowing I’d have to put that little (sic) thing in there, though.

Anyway, back to Brannigan. Another great thing I’ve decided can be done with brannigan is that it can be combined with the word ‘shenanigans’ to make what is described as down the local wordsmithery as ‘a mega-word’. Or in other words; just a bloody good word. The new mega-word I’m talking about is, of course; ‘shebrannigans’.

Definition of SHENANIGAN:

: Mischief, prankishness


: A drinking spree, but with a bit of mischief on the side.

How about that? Not bad, is it? You couldn’t do that with ‘binge’. Shebingigans? No. That’s stupid.

It’ll change everything. It’s not just a word; it can be a whole sentence. A question. Think of the time you’ll save. Texts, phone calls, emails, faxes, SOS’ could all be condensed to one word; ‘SHEBRANNIGANS?’ And then they text back with YES and then that’s your evening sorted. 

Words are a great thing and it’s about time we stopped letting them disappear. It won’t be long until there aren’t any words left at all. If we keep on like that then it’ll suddenly be 2033 and we’ll all be in a sub-par episode of Black Mirror.

Long have I hoped for a time where my children can write ‘brannigan’ on a computer or a phone and that bloody little red line doesn’t pop up underneath. Long has that notion haunted my dreams. Long have I imagined a world where mothers describe the wonders of brannigans to their infant children. Together, we can accomplish this. Spread the word (brannigan). Get it out there. Say it to your nan, put it on your Friends Reunited page. Shout it at a confused fellow-commuter on the tube. Write it on a piece of paper, screw it up and then throw it at a baby.

I’ll come out and say it; ‘brannigan’ should have never been lost. Its demise is down to poor leadership from the upper echelons of society and we all know it. I’ll end with a quote from our first and most beloved king; Aragorn (son of Arathorn). Except I’ll change a bit to make it about brannigans.

"Sons of Gondor! Of Rohan! My brothers. I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of BRANNIGAN. A day may come when the courage of BRANNIGAN fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of wolves and shattered shields when the Age of BRANNIGAN comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Men (and women) of the West!"


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