Now there’s a word I haven’t heard in a while…

I went to bed early last night (still ill 😦 so I’m getting tired easily); as a consequence I’m awake in the middle of the night. This is when my random ideas start to escape and if I don’t write them down I won’t get back to sleep.
On my mid-afternoon lunch break yesterday (Gods, how I hate saying lunch, it’s dinner!) I walked in on a conversation between some of my colleagues. One of them, a friend from over the river, used a word I hadn’t heard in several years: boking, boke.

Boke means to retch, the gagging stage before vomiting, from the Middle English bolken, to belch.(1)

I haven’t heard the word in some years, although it used to be in fairly common use in this area. As with all words, boke goes in and out of use, but it needs to become more common again I think. It is very evocative, and feels in the mouth like the emotion and physical reaction it describes.

I had thought it might be related to baulk, as in to refuse or resist doing something, but they might just sound similar. Baulk, sometimes spelt as balk is from Old English balca, (2),which means covering, bar or ridge. It is possibly from Old English bolca, meaning plank.

You might boke because you’re being asked to do something that makes you baulk. Or you might baulk at being at the same dinner table as people talking about boking.

But they don’t have the same origin. And now I’ve got those random thoughts scribbled down I’m going back to bed to try to get some sleep. I have to be vaguely alert at work today.


(1) “boke.” Collins English Dictionary – Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition. HarperCollins Publishers. 11 Dec. 2014. >.


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R Cawkwell

Hi I'm Rosemarie and I like to write. I write short stories and longer fiction, poetry and occasionally articles. I'm working on quite a few things at the minute and wouldn't mind one day actually getting published in print.

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