Thursday, 9 January 2014

Canoodle - Cuddle Me Softly

Cuddling, Romance, Love
Photo by Becky Wetherington


Verb intransitive and transitive. Slang (originally US). Mid-19th century.
[Origin unknown.]

Cuddle amorously; fondle, pet.

Since becoming a regular reader and occasional contributor to the Lexicolatry project, I have developed an increasing fascination with the stories behind word origins. And, as an all-grown-up person in this world, I have more than a passing interest in today's subject matter. Canoodle, it turns out, is a mystery word that appeared in the mid-1800s of unknown and contested origins. Some note the similarity with the German word knudeln, which means 'to cuddle,' as well as the Swedish knulla, 'to fornicate.' However, the graying heads in the hallowed halls of etymology remain unconvinced and, while the earliest cited sources of the word are British, they are all quick to point to America as the originator of the word, hence the British Eddie of Lexicolatry passing this word off to the resident American Lexicolatrist. 

While the debate rages in scholarly circles, and internet word enthusiasts scour the syllables for etymological leads, this humble blog contributor would like to simply ask if there could be a nicer word for a chilly January day? Canoodle with a loved one before the fire. Watch an old movie with severe characters warning teenagers against unwise canoodling in the backseats of old-fashioned cars. Whisper sweet nothings while canoodling on a couch and then fix a cajoling look upon the object of your affection and whisper "Darling, won’t you please pass the dictionary?"

Where do you canoodle? Any good canoodling stories?

Does canoodle make you think first of 'canoe' or 'noodle'? 
(or cuddling, of course, since that’s the word’s meaning …)

Happy canoodling, fellow Lexicolaters. Stay warm and cozy out there!
(and please pass the dictionary)


  1. Myself and my wife bought a Audio Cuddler in DFS a while back,
    and it's great for canoodling watching a movie.

    Of course as a man, I would deny that I love canoodling.
    The T 1 Thousand does not have human emotions or desire for comfort.

    1. The T 1 Thousand might not have human emotions, but he did select a couch "available in 7 colours at no extra cost."

      I hope it gives you comfort on cold nights--movies, denial, and all.

  2. Definitely makes me think of noodles rather than a canoe, although it could be the beginning of a delightfully twee children's poem:

    "Two noodles canoodled in a noodly canoe ..."

    1. And that, ladies and gentleman, is the origin story of the Lexicolatry Publishing House. All down to a serendipitous linguistic canoodling event.

    2. "That noodled canoodled the world never knew ..."

      (I'm going to finish it)

    3. Nuts! I made a mistake. It should be:

      "That noodles canoodled the world never knew ..."

      Otherwise it makes no sense.

  3. Jingles, that is both oddly specific and completely adorable. I approve on both counts.

  4. Someone left little drawings all over my canoe. Can't say I want to hug them.