Unsurprisingly, Lexicographers Give Good Email

When one sends an email off to a vast, semi-faceless organization, one expects a certain sort of a response (to the very limited extent one even bothers to expect a response at all). From some places — oh, say, us — you wouldn't be astonished to receive a raunchy and expletive-laden reply. From most organizations, though, you'd expect something fairly tame. And the Oxford dictionary folks seem to fall squarely into the latter camp.

Which is what makes this reply, sent by the dictionarians to a Gawker reader about their just-announced Word of the Year choice, and the accompanying runner-up words, quite so amusing:

From: xxx@oup.com
Date: Dec 6, 2005
Subject: Re: Squick?
To: GawkerReader

Thank you for your feedback! We hadn't heard this etymology of "squick" — we were sure it was onomatopoetic, but I don't think it can be proven to be from skull-fucking ...

It's really much funnier in context. The complete email exchange awaits after the jump.

From the top:

From: GawkerReader
Date: Dec 6, 2005
Subject: Re: Squick?
To: xxx@oup.com

Hello,

I'm not sure if I can prove the etymology of this word, but I know from years of hearing it on the Internet that "squick" is somewhat sinister — it's an onomatopoeiatic word that comes from the supposed sound of skull-fucking (excuse my, er, French?). You may want to do a bit of research behind that one. I'm a little relieved it didn't win word of the year. :)


Best,
GReader
From: xxx@oup.com
Date: Dec 6, 2005
Subject: Re: Squick?
To: GawkerReader

Thank you for your feedback! We hadn't heard this etymology of "squick" — we were sure it was onomatopoetic, but I don't think it can be proven to be from skull-fucking ...

We'll add it to the list of words we'll be reviewing again before the next update. Thanks again!

Yours,
XXX
From: GawkerReader
Date: Dec 6, 2005
Subject: Re: Squick?
To: xxx@oup.com
Hi,

Thanks for the quick reply! Sorry to use such vulgar language, but I had to preserve it in the way I had originally heard the definition. I just did a quick Google search and found these definitions in the Urban Dictionary (see definitions #2 and #4):

http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=squick&f=1

#2: A term originated around 1994 in the alt.tasteless newsgroup as a response to the question "What is the sound of a good skull fucking?" The term was quickly picked up by the alt.fuck.the.skull.of.jesus group and used primarily within Subgenius circles as a verb meaning "To fuck someone in the skull." The term was co-opted by the BDSM community some time latter, and its original meaning is often overlooked or ignored.

#4: n. (int.) The noise it makes when somebody pops out your eyeball and fucks your brain through the hole in your skull.

v. To produce such a noise.

also squicked: adj. The feeling or state one would associate with being squicked.

According to other entries on the page, it could be onomatopoeiatic from other sexual acts, not just this particular one, but I believe this is how it originated.

Hope that clears something up!

Thanks,
GReader
From: xxx@oup.com
Date: Dec 6, 2005
Subject: Re: Squick?
To: GawkerReader

Thanks! We'll take a look — the alt.tasteless cite is a great one.

Thanks again for taking the time to email us. And don't worry, lexicographers are like doctors — language doesn't bother us. :-)

Yes, just like doctors. Weird, pervy doctors trying to figure out what it sounds like to fuck a skull.

All Hail "Podcasting": More also-rans for the 2005 WOTY [OUPblog]