Susan Cooper

Jon Noble jon_p_noble at
Tue Nov 4 19:15:49 EST 2003

--- minnow at wrote:

> Incidentally and thinking of insults, has anyone got
> a source for the now
> unusable "nig-nog"?  As far as I know it had nothing
> whatever to do with
> "nigger", but was a Northern English dialect insult.
>  It wasn't about
> skin-colour when I was a child, just meant someone
> who was mean and
> Scroogely and piffling.  I'd love to know if there's
> any bookish evidence.
> "Nig" turns up in the 1811 *Dictionary of the Vulgar
> Tongue* as the
> clippings from the edge of coins, which would fit,
> but of course the S.O.D.
> is above such slang, and doesn't have ning-nong
> either, which in my youth
> meant "twerp" or "nitwit" (and is now also assumed
> to be racist.  *sigh*)
My first encounter with the term was when it was used
by Alf Garnett in "To death us do part" where it was
used in a racist sense; 
The term does appear in the Australian macquarie
dictionary, with the first definition being a
simpleton, and the second being its racist sense.

There is a short story by Edgar Wallace called
"Nig-Nog" it is in the collections "Fighting Snub
Reilly" (1929) and "Nig-Nog and other humorous
stories" (1934)

 an internet search produced this story;

A BBC spokesman told Ananova: "During Jim Bowen's
programme on BBC Radio Lancashire he used unacceptable
and racially offensive language.

"Later in the show he issued a frank apology for his
earlier comments.

"Jim was called to a formal meeting by managers who
sought reassurances from him that there would be no
repetition of such language. Subsequently, however,
Jim tendered his resignation and this has been

Mr Bowen told the paper: "No racial connotation was
ever intended and, having said all that, I should have
been sharp enough to correct the error.

"I almost immediately apologised for it as it was, to
say the least, not clever. The expression I used would
identify with the youngsters who were last to be
picked in a football team or perhaps weren't the
sharpest knife in the box."

there is also this;


Silly Person.

Not an abusive or racial term. This is an old
expression used in the North West to express mild
disapproval of someone's actions.

As in: "Tha cawn't even spell thi own name -th'art a
bluddy nig nog"

There is also a discussion of the word on the word
origins website at

which inludes the following

"NIG-NOG – “n. Slang. Derog. This word has lost its
former meaning of ‘fool’ or ‘dolt,’ and presumably, by
association with the deplorable word ‘nigger,’ has
become a highly objectionable way of referring to
black people.” From “British English from A to Zed” by
Norman Schur (FirstHarperPerennial edition, 1991).

It was originally “ ‘nigmenog,’ ‘an oaf,’” influenced
by “nigger” says “Random House Historical Dictionary
of American Slang, Volume 1, H-O,” by J.E. Lighter,
Random House, New York, 1994. 

It used to mean one thing and now, because it is a
sound-alike word, it means another. It’s possible that
the guy is just behind the times."

there is also this reference which is intriging

“I still have two of my Cookery exercise books which
make fascinating reading. Does anyone remember making
Nig-Nog Biscuits? Very un-PC!” Jean Crystall ’59-’64 

'Nig-Nog' Biscuits are possibly the 1950's equivalent
of today's Hob-Nobs. 

There is even the recipe here

but minnow won't be able to see that one.

Finally to bring it back to SF if not to DWJ, there is
this quote from possibly the genre's most prolific
author, Lionel Fanthorpe'

 "I'm am idiot," he said. "I am the primaeval ancestor
of all idiots. I am an arch-crud. I am the nig-nog of
all the nig-nogs. I am the ultimate splurge!"

Dark Continuum
Writing as John E. Muller 



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